11:10am Wednesday 19th March 2014
By Ashley Loveridge
Forest Green 2 Grimsby Town 1
FOREST Green surged closer to the play-offs with a stunning victory over fellow Conference Premier promotion hopefuls Grimsby Town at the New Lawn on Tuesday night.
Ady Pennock’s side leaped up five places in the table and now lie just a point off the play-off places.
Lee Hughes' sixth goal in 12 Rovers appearances gave his side a third-minute opener in a breathless start and Eddie Oshodi’s thumping header had the Mariners all at sea at the break.
Grimsby rallied after the break and hit back through Scott Neilson in the 58th minute, but Rovers remained resolute to hang on to a deserved victory.
Pennock tweaked his side with Dale Bennett recovering from an ankle injury to return in central defence at the expense of the suspended Aarran Racine.
Skipper Anthony Barry was also recalled along with Hughes. Yan Klukowski (groin) and Al Banguara (ill) made way.
Rovers were at it from the start as Grimsby struggled to gain a foothold.
A fine move saw Marcus Kelly’s sublime cross-field pass pick out veteran Hughes on the right. The former Premier League star stepped on the gas, shrugged off his marker and picked his spot into the bottom corner.
The jet-healed James Norwood was a whisker away from making it 2-0 on 11 minutes when his fizzing drive ricocheted off the post with goalkeeper James McKeown beaten all ends up.
The Mariners' first shot in anger from Connor Jennings was comfortably gathered by Sam Russell, making his 100th consecutive league start.
However, Rovers grabbed a second midway through the first half when Kelly's corner was headed home by Oshodi.
The Paul Hurst hairdryer must have come out at half-time as his Grimsby side roared into life.
Russell had to be alert to finger over a Cook header from a Scott Kerr cross.
Grimsby poured forward. Aswad Thomas arrowed over a ball from the left for Cook to plant a header on the roof netting.
The visitors were getting closer and Neilson saw his shot come back off the post.
However, the chunky winger pulled a goal bank when he rifled home after a Kerr corner was half- cleared.
Rovers responded with Matty Taylor's glancing header going close from Kelly's free-kick delivery.
Substitute Luke Rodgers could have sealed it for Rovers when he raced into the box, but hit his stinging strike went into McKeown.
Town almost snatched a point, but Patrick McLaughlin was frustrated by Paul Green's headed clearance off the line.
Forest Green: S. Russell; J. Turley, D. Bennett, E. Oshodi, C. Stokes; J. Norwood (E. Asafu-Adjaye 90), P. Green, A. Barry (J. Hodgkiss 88), M. Kelly; L. Hughes, M. Taylor (L. Rodgers 80).
Subs not used: D. Wright, P. White.
Grimsby Town: J. McKeown; S. Hatton, A. Boyce, S. Pearson, A. Thomas; C. Disley, S. Kerr, A. Thanoj (P. McLaughlin 86), S. Neilson (R. Hannah 81); A. Cook (O. Tounkara 72), C. Jennings.
Subs not used: P. Bignot, A. Rodman.
Referee: A. Bromley (Plymouth).
Star man: Dale Bennett – just edges it from Lee Hughes and Eddie Oshodi.
Rovers face Ady Pennock’s old side Welling at the New Lawn on Saturday, 3pm.
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