Grimsby Town 1-0 Stockport County

The Hatters began 2023 with a New Year’s Day single-goal defeat at Grimsby.

Following a tight and even first-half contest between the two clubs promoted from the National League in 2022, the ‘Mariners’ scored five minutes after the resumption to claim the points – as well as a third successive triumph, and a ’double’ for the season, over County.

The Hatters took to the field in the pale and waning new-year sunshine on the North East Lincolnshire coast, showing two changes from the line-up that had started at Walsall three days previously – with Joe Lewis replacing the injured Fraser Horsfall in central defence, and Calum MacDonald filling the left-back berth after Ryan Johnson pulled up in the pre-match warm-up.

Between the sticks, Ben Hinchliffe was handed his 300th appearance as a Hatter – while fellow goalkeeper Vit Jaros was named among the substitutes, 10 weekends after suffering an injury at Salford.

With just over five minutes on the clock, Myles Hippolyte fashioned the afternoon’s inaugural chance of sorts, courtesy of an angled delivery from the left that ended up soaring over home ‘keeper Max Crocombe and narrowly past the far upright.

Ahead of the first half’s mid-point, the hosts tested County’s goal for the first time – when Gavan Holohan crossed from the right for Danny Amos, lurking beyond the far post, to direct a header into the arms of Hinchliffe.

John McAtee – who, along with Holohan, had scored in Grimsby’s victory when the sides most recently met at Blundell Park… also, as it happened, on a bank holiday (last Good Friday on that occasion) – was the next Mariner to try his luck, but blasted well over at the end housing the County Faithful.

Hinchliffe held on to a header from home captain Luke Waterfall, following a long throw from the left by Niall Maher – before Waterfall’s skippering counterpart, Paddy Madden, four minutes prior to the break, half-volleyed a low shot just shy of the left post.

HALF-TIME: Grimsby 0, County 0.

Whilst opportunities had been at a relative premium in the first half, each team enjoyed one within three minutes of the re-start – as MacDonald unleashed a free-kick that Crocombe dived to smother, before Holohan ballooned over at the other end.

A couple of minutes later, the hosts broke the deadlock, after another Maher long throw – from the right, on this occasion – caused havoc in the County box, and Otis Khan stole in at the back post to fire home.

County looked to hit back through Hippolyte, whose point-blank shot was parried away by Crocombe, and Lewis, who headed over a chip into the area from Ryan Rydel. And the Hatters then proceeded to make a triple-substitution with 20 minutes remaining, as further part of the strategy to restore parity.

MacDonald fired through a crowded box and past the left upright, and, during six minutes of added time, Akil Wright headed beyond the opposite post – but, ultimately, the effort was in vain as County fell to a first defeat since the third week of November.

FULL-TIME: Grimsby 1 (Khan, 50), County 0.

Team (3-5-2): Hinchliffe; Wright, Lewis, MacDonald; Bardsley (Crankshaw, 70), Collar, Croasdale (Sarcevic, 70), Hippolyte (Brown, 89), Rydel (Evans, 70); Wootton, Madden (Capt.).

Unused Subs: Jaros, Barugh, C. Johnson.

Attendance: 6,490 (720 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


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