Hatters record crucial away victory
Robinson 21, Benson 60
The Hatters produced yet another superb away victory as they came from a goal down to beat Grimsby to go 17 points clear at the top of the table.
Trailing to Scott Neilson’s opening goal on 18 minutes the Town stormed back to take all three points at Blundell Park thanks to goals from Matt Robinson and Paul Benson to put them within touching distance of promotion at a ground.
It was a fine performance in the face of a spirited display from Play-Off chasing Grimsby with Mark Tyler and the Town defence standing firm in the closing stages.
The Town began showing two changes to the side that beat Chester on Saturday with Robinson and Cameron McGeehan starting in central midfield.
Grimsby, hunting a Play-Off place, started the brighter. A succession of corners inside the opening 10 minutes were dealt with well by the Town defence with Mark Tyler denying Lenell John-Lewis’ tame effort on nine minutes.
The Mariners came close to taking the lead on 16 minutes when Craig Disley’s header was cleared off the line with the Hatters struggling to deal with the amount of crosses pinged into the penalty area, especially from the right flank. From that chance, John-Lewis poked wide with the goal gaping at the back post.
However, the Town weren’t so lucky two minutes later. Another ball high into the box from the right was missed by Tyler’s attempted punch. The ball bounced square to Neilson and the former Town winger rifled home from 12 yards to give the hosts the lead.
But the Hatters are made of strong stuff these days and three minutes later they were level. Pelly Ruddock found Alex Lawless down the right and his cross found Paul Benson. The striker teed up Robinson and he coolly slotted home his second goal in as many games. There was no fluke about this one, either.
Level and with their tails up, the Town went in search of a second goal. An excellent passing move involving Robinson and Pelly Ruddock almost engineered an opportunity for Andre Gray on 32 minutes before a left-wing cross from Lawless four minutes later flashed dangerously across the Grimsby goalmouth.
The Hatters continued to impress going forward and Gray was unlucky not to do better on 38 minutes when McGeehan’s long ball over the top found the striker. However, his first touch wasn’t the greatest but as the home defence converged on the forward, he still managed to get a shot away that drifted wide.
But the Town were unlucky not to take the lead on 42 minutes following another move of real quality. Lawless’ cross from the right was nodded square by Benson into Robinson’s path 12 yards out but the midfielder’s header was saved superbly by home stopper James McKeown.
As half-time approached it was the Mariners that upped the ante. A succession of corners kept the Town pinned back in their own penalty area, and the Hatters had a stunning reaction save by Tyler to keep out a back-post header from Craig Disley two minutes into first-half stoppage time.
The second half was a slow burner, with little chances of note in the first 10 minutes after the restart and in truth Grimsby were beginning to get on top. However, the Hatters had other ideas and took the lead for the first time on the hour. Sam Hatton’s piledriver was charged down by Griffiths and the Town broke with Ruddock. The ball eventually broke back to the Town left-back and his low shot came back off the post and gleefully into Benson’s lap and he tucked home his 18th goal of the season.
The hosts were rocked by that goal and the Town sensed a third but neither Benson or Gray could find the final ball with Grimsby were up the field chasing an equaliser.
Neilson curled over for the Mariners as they continue to search for that leveller but Lawless tested McKeown on 69 minutes with a snap-shot from the edge of the box. As the game swung from end-to-end, Tyler produce an acrobatic save 30 seconds later on 70 minutes when keeping out Connor Jenning’s swirling drive which seemed destined for the top corner.
As Grimsby pushed forward the Hatters were looking a big threat on the break and Ruddock thought he was fouled on 72 minutes when springing clear of the home defence before being clattered by the on-rushing McKeown.
With 13 minutes left Gray spurned a glorious chance to make the game safe when firing a shot into the side-netting from 10 yards having been found by Ruddock’s pass.
The hosts continued to push for an equaliser in the final moments, including four added minutes, as the game swung from end-to-end. Grimsby failed to test Tyler despite a number of high balls into the box and in the end the Hatters celebrated a famous and crucial victory.
Town: Tyler; Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Franks; Ruddock, McGeehan, Robinson; Lawless, Gray, Benson.
Subs not used: Charles, Shaw, Cullen, Rooney, Justham.
Attendance: 3,789, including 410 backing the Hatters – superb for a Tuesday night in Cleethorpes.