Forest Green Rovers moved up to third spot in the League Two table with a narrow 1-0 over Grimsby Town at The New Lawn Stadium.
Mark Cooper’s side also maintained their unbeaten run at home which was stretched to five games after a clinical performance against Grimsby who are now without a win in three games.
Despite holding 64% possession throughout the game, Ian Holloway’s side were toothless going forward all night and it was a brilliant one-touch move leading to Jake Taylor’s goal in first-half by Forest Green that undid The Mariners.
Story of the game
Forest Green came into the game in high spirits, with Rovers sitting in fourth position in the League Two table, with just one defeat in their last five.
Former Town striker Jamile Matt had started the season excellently for Forest Green too, with five goals in just eight appearances, including a late winner against Morecambe in their last game.
The Green Devils were clear favourites before the tie and had a good head-to-head record against The Mariners going into the game, with the home side unbeaten in their last four meetings with the Lincolnshire club.
Grimsby mimicked Rovers’ 3-5-2 system and looked to press them high up the field but it was the hosts who had the first clear chance through the aforementioned Matt.
The striker peeled off his marker Duncan Idehen and connected with Taylor’s cross, with his header soaring just over the crossbar.
Cooper’s side had built a reputation this season for their silky passing moves and they pulled off another one to break the deadlock which Taylor finished, despite James McKeown getting his right hand to the ball.
The visitors enjoyed a decent amount of possession in the first half but just could not build on it in the final third and create chances to test Luke McGee in the Forest Green goal.
Owen Windsor did well and created Grimsby’s first chance with just over five minutes left in the first period as he won the ball on the right and drilled an inviting cross into the box which was missed by Chris Stokes, who with any bit of contact would have put the ball into his own net.
The visitors made an encouraging start to the second half with the wind blowing at their backs and the rain lashing down. James Tilley had their first attempt on target as centre-back Mattie Pollock overlapped on the right to cross in, with the ball eventually bouncing to Tilley who could not guide his half volley past McGee.
Despite the encouraging start, Forest Green should’ve added to the lead inside first 10 minutes of the half as Carl Winchester beat Idehen to the ball, running through on goal as he slid the ball, Odin Bailey, with a clear sight of the Grimsby goal. McKeown saved his first effort, but the ball fell back to the Rovers midfielder and with the whole goal to aim at once again, he fluffed his lines.
Town continued to push for an equaliser and substitute Matt Green fired marginally wide on the half-turn as the ball bounced to him just outside the box from a corner, with the hosts seemingly content to see out the game with just a one-goal lead.
Despite the visitor’s best efforts, Forest Green held on for the three points with a far from perfect, yet efficient performance to continue what has been a resurgent start to the season for the Gloucestershire club.
Forest Green were braver in attack
The home side did not tear down any trees as victors, however, they demonstrated once again their quality up top in brief spells which set them aside from their tentative opponents.
With half of the possession of Grimsby, Forest Green still had more shots and created more clear-cut chances which signified the away side’s unwillingness to take risks in the final third as much as it showed Rovers’ cutting edge.
Hanson being back is plus, but Town must get more out of him
The target man made his first start for Grimsby this season after returning from injury but was subbed off with barely an hour on the clock with his contributions in the game limited to aimless flick-ons.
With nine goals in the league last season, Hanson lead the way for his team last season and ended the last campaign strongly, although it feels as though his talents are wasted in the 3-5-2 system.
The ex-Bradford City striker is effective at winning aerial duels high up the field but tonight Hanson looked isolated had just Windsor to run onto his flick-ons which did nothing to worry the three Forest Green centre-backs.
Man of the match
Liam Kitching – Forest Green Rovers
The Rovers centre-back bombed down the left and showed some finesse to set up the only goal in the game and looked solid in defence during Grimsby’s late pressure.
At just 21-years of age, Kitching has appeared in all nine of his side’s games this season and is one to look out for as The Green Army look to mount a promotion push.