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Match Reports

REPORT| Willmott and Nouble strike as County win at Grimsby

13 January 2018

Goals from Robbie Willmott and Frank Nouble ensured County took all three points from their long trip to Grimsby Town following a 2-1 victory at Blundell Park.

Willmott opened the scoring on 19 minutes after what had been a sustained spell of possession from Grimsby early on, firing home from 20 yards into the near post after superbly turning his marker.

The Exiles were perhaps unlucky not to increase that advantage before half-time, having three attempts cleared off the line, but were duly rewarded for their persistence as Nouble struck after 55 minutes.

Seconds before that, Day had made a world class save to preserve the lead and quickly sent County on the counter-attack. Dan Butler then chipped a clever pass into Nouble’s path, whose curling shot did take a deflection off Karleigh Osborne on it’s way into the net.

But the home side were intent on getting their first win since early December and found a route back into the game with ten minutes remaining.

Substitute Jamille Matt was the man to find the net, calmly dispatching a header after Joe Day had saved his original attempt.

Matt was then sent off at the start of the eight additional minutes in Lincolnshire, but County held firm to secure another impressive victory on the road.

The victory ensures the Exiles maintain their 100% start to 2018 and rise to 10th as a result, just two points off the play-offs and four from the automatic places.  

Mike Flynn elected to name an unchanged side from the team that beat Championship outfit Leeds United 2-1 in the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday.

That saw the Exiles stick to their 4-4-2 formation from the off at a stadium which they hadn’t won at since the Conference play-off semi-final victory in 2013, with Padraig Amond and Frank Nouble leading the line up-front for the Exiles.

The only change for County came on the bench as Aaron Collins was named amongst the substitutes for the first time since re-joining the club after being cup-tied last weekend.

That saw Mark O’Brien miss out entirely from the matchday squad, with fellow January additions Josh Sheehan and Tyler Reid still looking for their first minutes of the campaign.

Grimsby Town manager Russell Slade made four changes to his starting side as he looked to change the club’s recent fortunes of going six in League 2 without a victory.

The most notable change for the Mariners at Blundell Park saw new signing Charles Vernam go straight into the starting side in place of Jamille Matt up-front.

Another January addition in Scott Vernon brought about another attacking change for the home side, with Sam Jones also taking a place on the bench.

Ex-Exile Mitch Rose also had to make do with a place on the bench as James Berrett took his place in the centre of midfield.

The final change came in defence as Danny Collins was replaced by Karleigh Osborne, with the Mariners fielding a 4-4-2 formation from the off in Lincolnshire.

But it was County to force the first chance of the game within three minutes. Matty Dolan’s 35-yard free-kick produced a smart save from Jake Kean in the home goal, and with Frank Nouble looking to jump on the rebound, the referee blew his whistle for an earlier infringement.   

It didn’t take too much longer for the home side to create their opening opportunity of the afternoon, however, as in the seventh minute Vernon forced a strong save from Day after being found free in the area.

The Mariners were having the majority of the early chances, Joe Day by far the busier goalkeeper for the opening 18 minutes, confidently collecting several aerial deliveries and controlling his penalty area.    

But the home side could do nothing about County taking the lead just a minute later as Robbie Willmott scored for the second successive league game with a thunderous attempt.

It was the product of some excellent passing by the whole team, Dolan, Amond and Nouble all involved, before Scot Bennett laid the ball off to Willmott on the edge-of-the-area, who turned his man before smashing the ball inside the near post.

That goal seemed to dampen the spirits of the home side somewhat after their lengthy spell in possession early on, as County began to get a proper foothold on proceedings after their early opener.

And the Exiles almost took full advantage of that with six minutes of the half remaining as they twice came close from successive corners.

A clever corner routine afforded Demetriou the chance to try his luck, this one being blocked behind, but they could easily have doubled their advantage with the next.

Ben Davies rose superbly to head Labadie’s attempt off the goal-line, before recovering enough to clear Butler’s follow-up attempt as-well with the goalkeeper beaten on both occasions.   

It was all County at this point as the Exiles were controlling everything about the game at Blundell Park and Padraig Amond was the next player to see his shot cleared off the line.

A long ball clearance from a Grimsby corner found Amond in acres of space just outside the area, and with the goalkeeper in no man’s land, tried a clever chipped attempt that Zak Mills did well to read and clear.

The indication of one additional minute added time couldn’t bring about any further chances, however, as County took a slender lead back with them to the dressing rooms.

And it would be hard to say that they didn’t deserve it.

Grimsby clearly dominated the opening quarter-of-an-hour and had the majority of the early chances, but that turned completely on its head after Willmott’s opener.

The Exiles were perhaps unlucky to not have a greater advantage after a prolonged period in possession, creating several clear-cut chances, although found a stubborn Grimsby defence in their way.

But that lead could have been wiped out on 54 minutes had it not been for another world-class save from Day.

Vernon turned Demetriou inside the area and looked for all the world like he was going to find the bottom right corner, only for Day to get a strong hand to it and palm it away.

And that save became even more important as County swiftly doubled their advantage within 30 seconds of that save.

Day safely collected the resulting corner before sending Butler on his way. The left-back chipped a neat ball into Nouble’s path out-wide, who cut inside and sent a shot from an acute angle towards goal, that Osborne deflected into his own net.

That two-goal advantage could soon have been three as Amond tried to get on the scoresheet against one of his former employers on 65 minutes. The Irishman did well to create a shooting opportunity for himself, which Kean couldn’t quite handle, as Mills again cleared one off the goal line.

But the home side were still intent on making a game of it despite the County dominance and found a route back into proceedings with ten minutes to play.

Some intricate play around the centre found Vernam, whose shot fell perfectly into the path of substitute Jamille Matt, who headed into an empty net after seeing the original attempt saved by Day.

But Matt was sent off with just a minute remaining for a leading elbow on Demetriou to vanquish any chance of the Mariners fighting back to claim a point, County then withstanding some intense pressure during the eight additional minutes to secure another impressive away victory.   

 

County: Day, Pipe, Demetriou, White, Butler, Bennett, Dolan (Tozer 79’), Labadie (C) (Reid 82’), Willmott (McCoulsky 83’), Nouble, Amond

Subs not used: Bittner, Sheehan, Hayes, Collins

 

Grimsby Town: Kean, Mills, Osborne, Clarke (C), Davies (Jones 90+2), Dembele, Berrett, Summerfield, Woolford (Jaiyesimi 67’), Vernon (Matt 67’), Vernam

Subs not used: Killip, Colllins, Rose, Dixon

 

Referee: Graham Salisbury

Attendance: 3,397 (99 AWAY)

Next up for County: Crawley Town (19th January 2018) HOME


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