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Hartlepool 2 Grimsby 0
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY were beaten by a strong Hartlepool side at Victoria Park this afternoon. Two second half goals from corners sunk the Mariners, although had the referee awarded Town a penalty when the score was 1-0 things might have worked out differently.
Paul Bolland returned to the starting line-up with Alan Buckley making the unusual decision to deviate from his favoured 4-4-2 formation in order to combat Hartlepool's impressive recent surge in form. Striker Martin Paterson moved to the left flank of a five man midfield, which left Rankin playing on his own up front.
After a scrappy start, with space at a premium in a congested midfield, Hartlepool gradually came into the game.
Pools had two great chances to take the lead. Firstly, from a corner, defender Ben Clark wellied the ball wide from about two yards out with the goal at his mercy. Then Gary Croft made a tremendous goal line clearance at the near post, again from a corner, to keep Town in the game.
Town were handing all the initiative to Hartlepool and were not really an attacking force in the first period. Pools looked especially dangerous from set pieces which, with all the Hartlepool pressure, were plentiful.
Alan Buckley must have felt Town had to be more positive as Bolland was replaced by Hegarty at the start of the second half, with Paterson moving up front, as Town reverted to an orthodox 4-4-2.
But Grimsby were once more soon under the cosh. Fenton made a superb last ditch clearance from a corner, but this time Pools struck. Substitute and former Mariner John Daly rose high in the box to bullet home the opener.
Town were forced to press forward and should have been given a penalty for a blatant handball. The defender moved his arm to the ball in the box, which effectively controlled the ball and diverted it away from an attacking player. The referee I'm sure would have given a free kick if the incident hadn't been in the box and instead gave Town a corner.
Town brought on Reddy but didn't really create much until they conceded a second goal from another corner when Monkhouse drilled the ball past Barners.
Town pressed forward and at least forced the 'keeper into a couple of saves, but it wasn't enough and Daly could even afford to miss a sitter at the other end.
Hartlepool were the stronger side and deserved to win. Grimsby played their part though and on another day could have nicked a point with a bit of luck with perhaps better defending from set pieces. Justin Whittle was a welcome sight back in defence and was my Man of the Match.
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