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Conlon Brushes Past Vale
By: Rob Sedgwick
A GOAL at the start of each half gave Grimsby the platform to record what turned out a fairly comfortable win over an out-of-form Port Vale side. Barry Conlon was the hero for Town, scoring two goals and putting in a Man of the Match display with his overall contribution.
Akpro was omitted, which meant another start for Adam Proudlock, with Jarman coming in on the right side of midfield. Boshell was retained in midfield with Llewellyn having to settle for a place on the bench. Grimsby went back to a 4-4-2 formation after flirting with 3 up front at Notts County.
Grimsby got off to the perfect start with an early corner at the Osmond end of the ground. Sweeney's kick was met by the head of Conlon at the near post. The 'keeper did well to parry the ball but it bounced back into the path of Conlon who gleefully slammed it in from close range.
A minute later Proudlock muscled his way past a defender to the byline and picked out Conlon with his cross, but the on-loan striker failed to fully connect the ball and it went straight at the 'keeper.
The day was going well with even the electronic scoreboard getting a cheer when it announced that Chester were losing to Bournemouth, the ideal result if Town were to go on and win.
Conlon was really running the show for Town and was able to pick out Town players at will as well as being a constant danger when in the vicinity of the goal.
Port Vale were not completely void of threats though and Town had to be careful not to make a mistake. One on occasion a Ryan Bennett headed clearance looped backwards off his head and appeared to have fallen into the path of a Port Vale player. However Henderson reacted quickest and just won the ball outside his area, heading it to relative safety.
On 20 minutes though Town had a two goal cushion. A Town corner was partial cleared but came back out to Hegarty who put in a cross back into the box was met by Jarman's outstretched right foot, volleying the ball into the net from the edge of the box.
Despite having a two goal lead Town did not alter their game plan or shape and continued to play in the same attacking manner, getting forward and taking Port Vale on wherever possible.
Proudlock appeared to have been brought down in the box on 30 minutes, but the referee booked him for diving. With Proudlock's propensity to pick up bookings this was a potential problem in waiting for Mike Newell.
Port Vale ended the first half strongly, and Henderson had to make two good saves. The second, a dipping shot by Howland, Henderson appeared to get a fingertip to and tip it on to the bar, but the referee only gave a goal kick.
Half Time: Grimsby 2 Port Vale 0
Town had bossed the game, and deservedly taken the lead, with Conlon at his imperious best. Vale occasionally threatened, but were mainly limited to shots from distance, one of which had struck the bar.
Conlon had a very early chance to give Town a 3 goal lead early in the second half, but his shot lacked power. However 2 minutes later the 'keeper spilled a low Jarman cross, and Conlon was once more on hand to slot the ball in from close range.
On 62 minutes Proudlock was brought down on the edge of the box, and the referee once again did not give the decision the way of the Town striker. The ref, who exuded authority, obviously didn't like something Proudlock had said and he was called over along with captain Bennett to be the recipient of the imaginary "amber card".
Mike Newell did the sensible thing and Proudlock was soon replaced by Forbes.
On 70 minutes Port Vale got a final confirmation that it was not to be their day when a goal was ruled out for offside. Henderson had made a good save seconds before, and the ball had zipped around the box, before someone poked it in, but the linesman's flag was up. The 50 or so away fans briefly woke up and directed a few mild invectives at the match officials and then sat down again to contemplate their plans for the summer months.
In the second half Port Vale once again had mainly hopefully shots from distance to try and spark off some mega-recovery, but most of them sailed high and/or wide.
The tension of many of Town's recent games was absent with Grimsby seemingly coasting to a win, and the 2-0 scoreline at Chester which the scoreboard relayed, saw the Mariners' faithful sink back a little more comfortably in their seats.
Town saw out the final few minutes, with a booking for Forbes for dissent the only minor blemish.
Full Time: Grimsby 3 Port Vale 0
Conlon won Man of the Match by a distance, but credit should also go to Jarman who supported the front two, scored one goal with a difficult finish, and effectively set up another.
Grimsby now need 2 points from their remaining two games to be certain of avoiding relegation, and these are only required if Chester win both of their games. If Chester win at Aldershot on Saturday and Town fail to beat Bournemouth at the same time then it will go to the wire, with Grimsby needing to get something from their home game with Macclesfield. Chester's two remaining games are against teams with "nothing to play for" so Grimsby are very much still in trouble. Please do not stop attending games because it is "in the bag"!
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