Tom Naylor strike piles on Forest Green agony
FOREST GREEN ROVERS 0 GRIMSBY TOWN 1
HE MAY have been otherwise engaged at Old Trafford, but Jose Mourinho would have been proud of a Grimsby Town gameplan that comprised parking the metaphorical bus for 45 minutes and pinching a precious victory.
Tom Naylor's scrambled strike after a rare Sam Russell error inflicted a third defeat in four matches on Forest Green, who now have failed to score in six-and-a-half hours of Blue Square Bet Premier football.
Matty Taylor's strop while being substituted at Cambridge clearly did not count against him, as he was restored to the Rovers attack alongside Magno Vieira and James Norwood.
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Al Bangura was also back in midfield after serving his five-match ban, and it will be intriguing to see how the Sierra Leone international dovetails with Lee Fowler during the latter's loan spell from Doncaster Rovers.
It was Fowler who mustered the night's first shot in anger after a quiet opening, although his sliced effort from 25 yards was closer to the roof of the Eesi Stand than the top corner of James McKeown's net.
Yan Klukowski was a good deal nearer with a free-kick from a central position, and Vieira ought to have tested McKeown with an angled drive after a swift counter-attack.
Following the blueprint of so many visiting teams to the New Lawn, Grimsby lined up with two banks of four and were content to concede the lion's share of possession.
Patience would therefore be a virtue for the men in green, and at least McKeown had to produce a low save from Norwood's 41st minute shot after the forward had latched onto Chris Stokes' clever pass and surged into the box.
A minute before the break Stokes came within millimetres of breaking the deadlock, Taylor putting him in the clear with an audacious back-heel and watching in anguish as the left-back's attempt came back off the foot of the far post.
There was still time in the first half for Klukowski to register another shot on target, although his free-kick over the wall lacked sufficient pace to trouble McKeown.
Little changed in terms of momentum after the restart, Fowler sending an ambitious volley over the crossbar from a half-cleared corner.
Rovers goalkeeper Russell was finally called into action on 57 minutes, beating away a near-post effort by Aswad Thomas following decent hold-up play by Marcus Marshall.
Four minutes later the Mariners threatened again, Craig Disley nodding down Joe Colbeck's driven free-kick for Ian Miller to blaze over from ten yards.
Disley fired over from range as the visitors sensed a route to all three points, and the sucker punch was duly delivered in the 74th minute.
It stemmed from substitute Andi Thanoj's deep cross, which was fumbled by Russell and landed at the feet of Naylor for a simple finish on his full debut.
Both Yemi Odubade and Ben Wright were summoned from the bench as Hockaday desperately sought an end to the goal drought, but the FA Trophy finalists held firm to stay on course for the non-League double.
Forest Green: S. Russell; J. Hodgkiss, J. Turley, E. Oshodi, C. Stokes; Y. Klukowski, A. Bangura (Y. Odubade 77), L. Fowler (K. Forbes 69); M. Vieira, M. Taylor (B. Wright 83), J. Norwood; Subs not used: E. Asafu-Adjaye, P. Green.
Grimsby Town: J. McKeown; B. Wood, I. Miller, T. Naylor, A. Thomas (S. Hatton 85); J. Colbeck, D. Niven (A. Thanoj 29), C. Disley, M. Marshall; R. Brodie (L. John-Lewis 64), A. Cook; Subs not used: J. Devitt, R. Hannah.
Referee: P. Bankes (Liverpool)
Star man: Al Bangura