GRIMSBY TOWN 2, STOCKPORT COUNTY 1
Stockport County’s nine-game winning run in National League came to an end as they began their Easter weekend programme with a first visit to Grimsby Town (or to be geographically precise Cleethorpes) in nearly a decade.
Scott Quigley’s first goal for County in exactly two months put the Hatters ahead, but they then had to play more than half the game at a numerical disadvantage after Antoni Sarcevic was sent off.
But two second-half strikes within 12 minutes from John McAtee and Gavan Holohan saw the spoils go to the play-off-chasing Mariners.
County took to the field in the hazy Good Friday afternoon sunshine, in front of a sell-out crowd by the seaside, and with an unchanged line-up from that which had started against Southend at Edgeley Park six days earlier.
Recent on-loan Hatter, Aston Villa’s Arjan Raikhy, currently with the hosts until the end of the season, was ruled out of the game due to injury.
County had the first chance after eight minutes when Liam Hogan headed over from Will Collar’s cross.
And a couple of minutes later, home captain Luke Waterfall’s tackle stopped Quigley in his tracks, with any thoughts of penalty appeals waved away when the County forward was through on goal.
But the big striker was not left to rue the matter for long, after a delivery into the box from Myles Hippolyte was flicked on by Paddy Madden to Quigley, who rolled the ball past goalkeeper Max Crocombe for a 13th minute County lead.
Around the first half’s mid-point, Quigley squared to Hippolyte, whose low shot from just outside the area was smothered by Crocombe. And shortly afterwards, Sarcevic tried his luck from further out with a dipping effort that cleared the crossbar.
The hosts’ leading scorer McAtee tested Ben Hinchliffe with an angled delivery from the left by-line, but County’s number one collected it cleanly before his counterpart Crocombe was again called into action to gather up a shot from the edge of the box by Collar.
Ten minutes before the break, the Hatters, having dominated much of the contest, were reduced to that very number of men when Sarcevic was shown his straight red for a challenge on Michee Efete.
County fashioned a further scoring opportunity before half-time with Crocombe just keeping out Ryan Johnson’s close-range flick, following a Hippolyte corner from the right.
The Hatters further shored up their defence by introducing Mark Kitching in a back four upon the resumption. And unsurprisingly, the hosts, a man to the good, were soon showing their attacking intent with Efete forcing Hinchliffe to save with his legs, before Holohan and Harry Clifton both unleashed shots from distance that flashed past the right post.
With their next attack of note, shortly after the hour, the Mariners were back on level terms, as McAtee seized upon a loose ball in the area, cut in from the right and slotted a shot under Hinchliffe.
A dozen minutes later, Grimsby were ahead, after Jordan Maguire-Drew’s corner from the left was headed back across the goalmouth by Waterfall for Holohan, who had signed from Hartlepool in late March, to convert.
Substitute Ollie Crankshaw had the ball in Grimsby’s net with eight minutes remaining only to have his effort ruled out for offside. And Hinchliffe did well to keep out another attempt by McAtee, but the Hatters ultimately fell to a first league defeat since mid-December – a result that, thanks to results elsewhere, only cuts their lead at the top of the table by one point to seven.
Stockport County (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan, Palmer, Johnson (Cannon 79); Minihan, Collar, Croasdale, Hippolyte (Crankshaw 56); Sarcevic; Quigley (Kitching 46), Madden. Subs (not used): Ashby-Hammond, Newby.
Goals: McAtee (64), Holohan (76) for Grimsby Town. Quigley (13) for Stockport County.
Attendance: 7,818 (1,455 visitors).
Report: Gareth Evans.