Encouraging spells in Reds’ defeat

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Alfreton Town were beaten 3-1 at Blundell Park on Saturday as Grimsby Town racked up their fifth successive win over the Reds, but there were spells of encouraging pressure.

Fielding an unchanged side for the third game, Alfreton fell behind to a 13th minute Liam Hearn goal, despite having the lion’s share of the opening 25 minutes, but it was only in added time that the Reds secured a consolation through Nick Fenton.

A fluent move on 11 minutes had seen John Akinde, Dan Bradley and Josh Law all involved before John McGrath’s pass was just too high for Akinde to latch on to in front of goal.

Immediately after falling behind Paul Clayton appeared to be pushed as he tried to reach Bradley’s through-ball, but referee Anthony Backhouse waved aside penalty claims.

Tom Shaw fired wide after a promising run, then Clayton volleyed over from an off-side position from Chris Westwood’s pass.

Shaw fired over again on 21 minutes after Akinde had chested down Bradley’s through-ball, then Akinde’s driven by-line cross from Law’s flick-on eluded both Clayton and Bradley with Grimsby’s defence stretched.

A vital block by Shaun Pearson prevented Akinde from levelling the score after 23 minutes, then the hosts came close to scoring when Craig Disley’s header from a corner was directed into Reds’ keeper Ross Atkins’ custody by Hearn from close range.

Hearn’s angled drive was palmed aside by Atkins in the 32nd minute, then seven minutes later Grimsby struck for a second time when Joe Colbeck steered the ball in from a tight angle from a Lenell John-Lewis pass.

Atkins’s reflex save from Disley kept Alfreton in contention, then on the stroke of half-time a Clayton back header glanced wide from a Law corner.John-Lewis and Akinde went close for either side as the second half commenced, then Bradley and Akinde each missed chances to reduce the deficit with 52 minutes having elapsed.

Three minutes later, Atkins spotted Patrick McLaughlin’s deflected free-kick very late but managed to palm it on to the roof of the net. However the keeper was unable to prevent McLaughlin from converting Colbeck’s cross from close range after 57 minutes as the Mariners led 3-0.

Law’s 62nd minute strike was turned around the foot of the post by home keeper James McKeown, then substitute Daniel Meadows released Akinde for a run into the area, only for retreating defenders to crowd him out before McKeown smothered the ball.

Danny Wishart’s run left two defenders in his wake before Pearson hacked clear, then Akinde’s acceleration down the left flank opened up a chance for Meadows who shot tamely from the edge of the area.

Bradley Wood’s cross from the left was headed in at the back post by Fenton with one minute of added time already played, while either side of Alfreton’s late goal McGrath and Alastair Taylor each had decent opportunities to score.