GRIMSBY TOWN 0 TORQUAY UNITED 2
INJURIES to first-choice strikers Lenell John-Lewis and Jon-Paul Pittman helped pile on the misery for Grimsby Town as they slumped to a 2-0 home defeat against Torquay United.
First half goals from Courtney Richards and Luke Young were enough to send the hosts to a second successive defeat, despite a spirited second half comeback, and make it a happy homecoming for Cleethorpes-born boss Chris Hargreaves.
Paddy McLaughlin returned to the Town side after being a substitute in the midweek loss to Lincoln but it was otherwise as you were for the Mariners, who were looking to return to winning ways.
The first warning sign came within 90 seconds though. The visitors won a corner and it was driven into the near post by Young, where Bowman was on hand to volley over.
Town responded well with McLaughlin testing Martin Rice with a 25-yard free kick but the Gulls should have took the lead on five minutes.
Bowman again caused problems with his strength and the ball eventually worked its way to him in the box but he could only succeed in poking it straight at McKeown.
At the other end, Pittman headed over after a fantastic cross with the outside of his boot by Scott Brown. Unfortunately for the home fans, that would be the striker’s last contribution to the play.
Pittman chased down a long clearance on the left before crumpling into a heap on the touchline. The post-match diagnosis was a hamstring tear, which is likely to sideline him for up to a month.
Ross Hannah was introduced into the fray but it was the visitors who took the advantage, taking the lead on 14 minutes.
A long throw into the box was helped on by Bowman and Richards stole in from deep to slide in before McKeown and make it 1-0.
Town were struggling to get any rhythm to their play and only two long-range efforts from John-Lewis troubled Rice for the remainder of the half.
So it came as no surprise to see the visitors double their advantage on 37 minutes. Brown lost the ball in midfield and then Nsiala presented Young with a great chance from a wayward clearance. The Gulls’ midfielder advanced into the area and planted his effort beyond McKeown via the outstretched foot of Shaun Pearson.
It was much the same at the start of the second half with the impressive Toby Ajala advancing to fire in a shot that was inches wide of McKeown’s left-hand post.
Only after the 58-minute introduction of substitutes Jack Mackreth and Craig Clay did the Mariners spring into action.
And they should have halved the arrears on 64 minutes. Scott Neilson and John-Lewis combined well to tee up Hannah but he elected to step inside onto his favoured left foot and he could only succeed in lifting his shot over the crossbar from inside the area.
Hannah was again wasteful in front of goal eight minutes later. Neilson was again involved and this time the former Bradford man was on his favoured left foot but he hesitated and this allowed Rice to come out and smother the effort.
An ankle injury to John-Lewis with ten minutes to go meant Town finished the game with ten men and that ended any hopes of a grandstand Grimsby finish. The defeat leaves the threadbare Mariners to travel to Halifax on Tuesday night with the hope of avoiding a third successive defeat for the first time since March 2013.
Mariners: McKeown; Bignot, Nsiala, Pearson, Magnay; Neilson, Disley (Mackreth), Brown, McLaughlin (Clay); John-Lewis, Pittman (Hannah). Subs not used: Doig, Walker.
Gulls: Rice; Tonge, Downes, Cruise, MacDonald; Young, Ajala, Richards; Bowman (Yeoman), Chappell (Wakefield), Ofori-Acheampong (Pearce). Subs not used: Seabright, Sullivan.