A SOLITARY strike from on-loan striker Ollie Palmer earned Grimsby Town all three points from their marathon midweek trip to Eastleigh and created a gap between the Mariners and the chasing pack in a bid for a Vanarama Conference Play Off spot.
The 1-0 scoreline didn’t tell the full story of a game that the Mariners thoroughly dominated from start to finish, indeed they had plenty of chances to make the result more emphatic.
Manager Paul Hurst brought new signings Gregor Robertson and Christian Jolley straight into the starting line-up in place of Danny Parslow and Jack Mackreth, who both dropped to the bench.
Top scorer Lenell John-Lewis also returned to the first XI, replacing Jon-Paul Pittman, the former Wycombe man sitting out altogether with a hamstring problem.
Town got into their rhythm straight away with Palmer teeing up John-Lewis for a sight at goal but the big striker snatched at his chance and it was gratefully gathered by Ross Flitney in the home goal.
Palmer then had a good chance himself at the far post but he fired into the side netting from a difficult angle.
The Mariners were dictating the pace of the game and duly took the lead on 38 minutes.
Palmer chased down Jamie Turley into the corner, forcing the Spitfires’ defender into a mistake. The former Havant striker advanced into the area and curled an excellent shot beyond Flitney and in off the far post.
Still Town continued to press and they should have added a second in first half stoppage time. John-Lewis powered down the right and pulled the ball back for Craig Clay but he fired straight at Flitney from a good position.
The second half saw much of the same as the men from North East Lincolnshire continued to dominate.
Just two minutes into the second period and Palmer and John-Lewis combined again, the former crossing for the latter to nod agonisingly wide of the far post.
John-Lewis then looked to be bundled over in the box as he reached for Carl Magnay’s cross but a corner was given. Wide men Jolley and Nathan Arnold then lifted efforts over as the Mariners went in search of a second.
On 65 minutes Shaun Pearson rose to meet an Arnold corner but saw his header cleared off the line before Flitney pulled off a fantastic fingertip save to keep out Disley’s thunderous left-foot volley on the follow-up.
Parslow came on for debutant Jolley as Hurst looked to shore things up and seal the three points but his side continued to pour forward with Palmer and John-Lewis both being denied by fine stops from Flitney.
It was testament to Town’s superiority that it took the hosts until the second minute of injury time to register a noteworthy effort on goal, James McKeown getting down smartly to deny substitute Craig McAllister, as the final whistle blew.
Spitfires: Flitney; Spence, Turley, Partington, Evans; Reason, Stanley (Odubade), Howard (McAllister); Constable, Midson, Strevens. Subs not used: Noice, Todd, Reid.
Mariners: McKeown; Magnay, Pearson, Nsiala, Robertson; Arnold, Clay, Disley, Jolley (Parslow); John-Lewis, Palmer. Subs not used: Hannah, McLaughlin, Mackreth, Watson.