Grimsby Town ‘hard luck’ story gets happy ending as 2,500 travelling fans enjoy perfect away day
Grimsby Town ended their eight-match losing run away from home as a last-minute winner secured a 2-1 comeback victory at Notts County.
The Mariners almost encapsulated their season in just 90 minutes as they spurned guilt-edged chances but took all three points thanks to goals from Ryan Taylor and Michee Efete.
The striker had already hit the post with a wayward penalty shortly after Town had fallen behind to Callum Roberts’ opener, which was terrific skill and woeful defending in equal measure.
Taylor was guilty of spurning another huge opportunity as he blazed over from eight yards, which John McAtee struck the bar in a pulsating opening 45 minutes.
However, in a topsy-turvy afternoon for the striker, he sent the away end into raptures as he rescued a point mid-way through the second 45.
Things got even better when in six minutes of stoppage time, Waterfall met Danny Amos’ free-kick which was bundled across the line by Efete for the winner to send the away end into raptures.
The victory is Town’s first on the road since October 9 and their first away point against a play-off rivals.
In response to last week’s 2-1 victory over Wealdstone, Paul Hurst named an unchanged matchday squad with the Mariners looking to end a run of eight successive away defeats.
Grimsby Town were backed by a fantastic away following of 2,500 supporters, who were in fine voice from minutes one.
However, they were given very little to shout about when, after 15 minutes, Notts opened the scoring through Roberts.
The attacker picked up the ball in acres of space between midfield and defence and drove at the heart of the Mariners’ backline, weaving past a statue-esque Waterfall before drilling in his ninth of the season.
Both teams looked threatening in the opening exchanges, with Roberts and Ruben Rodrigues dropping between the line to cause overloads in Ian Burchnall’s 3-4-3 system.
However, Hurst’s men grabbed a grip on proceedings and were awarded a penalty when McAtee was barged into by Kyle Cameron, much to the annoyance of the Meadow Lane crowd.
However, Taylor’s left-footed effort hit the foot of the post, in a typical but unironic fashion.
Wasting key chances has been a consistent theme of the Mariners’ matches against their play-off rivals and Taylor continued that trend by blasting over when unmarked from eight yards.
In recent defeats at Halifax Town and Wrexham AFC, Hurst’s side have been left to rue ‘fine margins’ that have dictated their season.
As McAtee struck the bar from an acute angle, the Mariners boss must have been dreading the thought of repeating himself in his post-match media duties.
The second half yielded more of the same, albeit less clear-cut chances.
Grimsby Town again had all of the ball, all the territory but they couldn’t muster a way through to goal.
Arjan Raikhy was the architect in midfield, conducting the midfield battle against the National League’s most possession-heavy side.
However, finally, the ‘hard luck’ story changed. In a season-defining 20 minute spell, the Mariners took all three points.
Taylor swept home his seventh goal of the season from close range after Vitezslav Jaros parried a cross into his path.
Notts County then rallied, with a pent-up home crowd desperate to see their side respond after being truly dominated.
But instead, the moment every Grimsby Town fan had dreamt off followed. Tristan Abrahams was tugged back when racing on to a loose back pass to earn a dangerous-looking free-kick.
Amos lofted the ball into the box, Waterfall nodded it down and Efete headed turned the ball home to secure a priceless three-point haul.
Again, this was another game in which the Mariners did not deserve to lose. Up to 70 minutes, the fear was they would suffer another ‘hard-luck story’.
Yet, it was the dream away game. A near-perfect performance, capped off with the most dramatic victory to justify the efforts of their die-hard travelling contingent.
The result leaves the Mariners 10th in the National League standings but cuts the gap to the play-offs to four points.
Hurst’s side have back-to-back home matches next week against King’s Lynn Town and Aldershot Town.
Grimsby Town: Crocombe; Efete, Waterfall, Pearson, Amos; Raikhy, Coke (Fox, 45′, Wright, 73′)); Sousa, McAtee (Abrahams, 88′), Clifton; Taylor.
Unused substitutes: Smith, Burgess, Wright.
Notts County: Jaros; Brindley, Cameron, Lacey; Richardson, Palmer, Brunt (Vincent, 63′), Taylor (Mitchell, 85′); Roberts, Rodrigues (Sam, 69′), Wootton.
Unused substitutes: Chicksen, Francis.