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Refereeing Decisions Cost Town
By: Rob Sedgwick
A controversial goal by Bristol Rovers proved to be the deciding moment of the game at Blundell Park on Saturday. The ball appeared to have gone over the by-line but was pulled back to Lockyer who drilled the ball past McKeown's near post with the Town players hoping for a whistle which never came.
It was a tough moment for Grimsby to take who had had the bulk of the possession in the first hour of the game, and had stayed in the match another refereeing controversy over a first half penalty. James McKeown came out for a long ball to Blissett, there was some contact between the two, but the ball seemed to be going out of play. The ref after some hesitation pointed to the spot, for fortunately Taylor's strike hit the base of the post and was cleared.
Ollie Palmer pulled out of the game late with an hamstring injury, with Paul Hurst deciding to play Jolley up front and bring on Mackreth to the right wing.
An early chance fell to John-Lewis when Mackreth picked him out in the box. John-Lewis made a great turn to give himself space to shoot but Mildenhall was quick to come out and manage to smother the Town striker's shot.
Grimsby had most of the ball but Rovers did look dangerous when they did break. McKeown kept Town in the game when he palmed away a shot by Palmer but Blissett skyed the rebound which looped over the goal.
The first half ended with few chances for either side but Town fans were relieved to still be level after the penalty incident, in which McKeown was given the yellow card.
After the break McKeown made a top save to turn the ball round the post from a Blissett shot.
Rovers, who had been content to let Town have most of the possession for the first hour of the game, stepped up the pace in the final third of the match. Their goal though came from a move in which Brown appeared to have taken the ball out of play, but he pulled it back to Lockyer whose shot took a slight deflection to beat McKeown on his near post.
As at Forest Green Hannah came off the bench and had chances to win it for Town. He did get the ball in the net but it was ruled out as Hannah was stood in an offside position. The Town striker then skied a good chance in the closing moments which would have rescued a deserved point for Town.
Grimsby matched Rovers for most of the game and had long periods of possession but just didn't create enough opportunities to win the game. That said Rovers got the breaks with the penalty and goal, and Grimsby were denied by the officials when they did get the ball in the net. The late injury to Palmer didn't help either and Jolley looked like a winger player as a striker. Should Hannah have started instead?
The two defeats have cast a shadow on Town's season but they were both close games and Grimsby were not outplayed by either Forest Green or Bristol Rovers. Town will get the chance to test themselves against the strongest team in the division so far when the Mariners meet leaders Barnet on Saturday. The Mariners are perfectly capable of winning that game and after that they have a run of supposedly easier fixtures when picking up points should be more straightforward.
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