Match Report by Steve Humbles
Telford started brightly as the early assault from their high-flying hosts never came. Steve Jones floated an effort just over on 13 minutes before Kris Taylor’s free-kick went just wide, whilst Grimsby threatened when Andy Cook beat one of Telford’s three debutants, Karlton Watson, before seeing his shot blocked by Ryan Young on 21 minutes.
Grimsby were clearly ruffled by Telford’s “up and at them” approach in the early stages, with Phil Trainer and Ian Craney (pictured) outstanding in midfield for the visitors. Craney nearly notched a debut goal when his poke towards the net was saved by James McKeown after Trainer’s superb cross-field pass had found another debutant, Bagasan Graham, on the Bucks’ left on 22 minutes.
For Grimsby, Sam Hatton advanced all too easily towards goal and produced a shot which was well-parried by Young on 24 minutes and the Telford stopper also made a smart save to deny a fierce drive from the Mariners’ recent loan signing from Bury, Marcus Marshall, who had cut in from the right on the half-hour.
Despite a busy and industrious display from Telford, Grimsby continued to create half-chances as the first period drew to a close – not surprisingly given the embarrassment of attacking riches at their disposal. Derek Niven’s shot was always curling away from goal and former York and Crawley marksman Richard Brodie – who always excels against Telford – curled an effort wide from the edge of the box.
There was plenty to be encouraged by, though, during a first-half in which Telford were hard-working, played a high-line and perfected a high-tempo game which restricted Grimsby and gave them no time on the ball to get into their rhythm. Instead Grimsby had been forced into uncharacteristic errors, with Trainer and Craney dominating the midfield and Graham providing pace on the flank.
Indeed, the only downside from Telford’s first-half performance was that they hadn’t nicked a goal and there was also a concern as to whether Telford could maintain that level of performance in the second-half given the high work-rate on show.
There was also always a feeling that Grimsby would come out all-guns blazing at the start of the second-half after a rocket from joint managers Rob Scott and Paul Hurst. Sure enough, there was a real change of atmosphere at the start of the second period and it was “all hands on deck” for the Bucks - only a fingertip save from Young denied Andy Cook’s header in the first minute following the re-start.
On 48 minutes, however, Telford were behind. It was another disappointing goal to concede, too, with the Bucks’ defence "all at sea" to a simple ball over the top from Mariner Joe Colbeck. Brodie – who else – latched onto it and got goal-side of Kris Taylor before taking a touch and effortlessly stroking the ball past Young from close-range to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
That left Telford with it all to do and Grimsby had their tails up. Trainer nearly sneaked a leveller when his drive went straight through Craney on its way to McKeown but the hosts were now looking the most likely scorers; Pearson’s overhead kick being saved by Young, whilst Cook was denied by the linesman’s offside flag after heading home Colbeck’s right-wing centre.
Trainer looked to have nicked an equaliser when he fired inches wide from long-range before Cook shot past the post at the other end on 82 minutes. Telford continued to force occasional half-chances, Craney floating wide after finding a pocket of space in front of the home defence before the hard-working Jake Reid’s shot from distance was saved by McKeown low to his right.
Substitute Ross Hannah should have sealed it for the Mariners when he lobbed Young but also wide of the post after seizing onto Will Salmon’s weak attempted back-header, but Telford did have a couple of half-chances to snatch a point in injury-time as the tension mounted for both teams.
Firstly substitute Charlie Henry’s shot from distance was well-saved by McKeown. Then, with almost the last kick of game, Jay Smith blazed well wide with a free-kick from the edge of the box after Henry had been upended.
13. James McKeown, 2. Sam Hatton, 3. Aswad Thomas, 4. Derek Niven, 5. Shaun Pearson, 6. Ian Miller, 7. Joe Colbeck, 8. Craig Disley, 12. Andy Cook, 14. Richard Brodie, 26. Marcus Marshall.
19. Bradley Wood, 20. Dayle Southwell, 21. Andi Thanoj, 25. Ross Hannah (for Marshall, 81 minutes), 28. Lenell John-Lewis (for Brodie, 62 minutes).
1. Ryan Young, 2. Will Salmon, 3. Ryan Valentine, 4. Ian Craney, 8. Phil Trainer, 9. Bagasan Graham, 10. Steve Jones, 15. Jake Reid, 19. Kris Taylor, 21. Karlton Watson, 22. Jordan Rose.
5. Dan Preston
, 12. Jay Smith (for Taylor, 70), 16. Richard Peniket (for Graham, 82 minutes), 18. Steve Leslie, 23. Charlie Henry (for Jones, 62 minutes).
Mr Anthony Backhouse (Heads Nook, Cumbria)
4,462 (including 42 away supporters)