Notts Make Mariners Sink Further

The Magpies overcame what appeared to be a weak Grimsby outfit that justified their lowly league position, with a far from spectacular, but efficient performance, that sees Steve Thompson's team consolidate their play-off position.

It appeared that Grimsby's plan was to come out of the traps quickly with an early attack; rapidly getting the ball out to the right wing and forcing a corner off the Notts County full-back Austin McCann. The corner resulted in former Notts defender Nicky Fenton heading harmlessly over the bar from around eight yards.

Notts showed some tidy build up play early on, keeping the ball away from the Mariners' players. However, this did not last long, with both sides resorting to hopeful long balls, bypassing the midfield, meaning that chances in the first half were few and far between.

Lee... Constantly caused havoc
Notts County's first chance came from an Ian Ross free-kick from the right wing. His floated delivery met the head of Jason Lee, who headed the ball back across goal towards Alan White, but his rasping first time effort was saved well by Grimsby Town goalkeeper Phillip Barnes, who got down to his right to save well, much to the dismay of the Magpies' away following; many of whom thought the effort was in the back of the net.

The Magpies' only real scare came when former Forest man, Gary Jones, flicked on a deep cross from the left wing towards Nicky Fenton, who struck the ball towards Kevin Pilkington's goal; only for the Notts County shot-stopper to pull off a truly outstanding save to his right, tipping the ball over his crossbar.

Other than that attempt, Grimsby rarely threatened, although Kevin Pilkington will be thankful that nothing came of a tackle on him outside of his area, after he was trying to usher the ball out of play. Luckily Dan Gleeson was at hand to pick up the pieces and clear the ball to safety.

Steve Thompson's side created very few chances, although twice came close in the first half. Jason Lee saw a shot fly just wide of the left post from just outside the area, after good work on the right hand side of the penalty area by Junior Mendes, who managed to turn the Grimsby right-back and lay the ball to the big Notts forward, who was showing what an important player he is for the Magpies, winning countless headers and holding up the ball well on numerous occasions.

Andy Parkinson also came close, again fooling the travelling Notts' supporters into thinking that they had taken the lead, after he hit the stanchion behind the goal with a stinging low drive to the left, which literally shaved the post.

It would appear that Steve Thompson's team talk drove his side on, as they started to get the better of Grimsby as the second half progressed. Their renewed belief led to Notts having two penalty claims after a shot from former Mariners man Andy Parkinson, appeared to hit the hand of a Grimsby defender and Mendes seemed to have his shirt pulled by Fenton. However, both claims were waved away, despite the raucous appeals from the Notts' faithful.

It appeared to be the Magpies' best spell of the game with Mendes and former Wales Under-21 International David Pipe getting more and more into the game as the half progressed. This was demonstrated when the two linked up down the right hand side after breaking the offside trap, with the ball subsequently being laid off to Pipe, who managed to force a corner.

It was not until Pipe broke away on the right wing that Notts managed to break the deadlock. Pipe floated a delightful ball onto the head of Junior Mendes, who managed to escape his marker and head in to the bottom left hand corner of the net. It was nothing less than the former the Grimsby loan player, Mendes, deserved, as he was a constant thorn in Grimsby's side all afternoon.

Grimsby did try to hit back immediately, winning a few corners, but these were dealt with by the Magpies' rear guard with relative ease. Grimsby did create a couple of reasonable chances later on, but couldn't get the equaliser. The first was with an attack down the left hand side, but the attempt was fired directly at Kevin Pilkington from long range, and the Notts stopper gathered the ball without being threatened.

Another chance was from a free-kick after Parkinson had chased back, showing great work rate after losing possession, but consequently fouled Gary Croft. From the dead ball situation, Gary Jones powered a header towards goal, forcing a good save from Pilkington, who reacted well to tip the effort over once again.

Pipe... Set up opener

The Magpies took advantage these missed chances by scoring a second goal in the 80th minute. The breakthrough came after some great work by David Pipe on the right flank, riding numerous controversial challenges with sheer determination, before eventually being tugged to the ground. The free-kick was then swung in by Ross, showing wonderful placement, which allowed big Jason Lee to power in a low diving-header at the back post; making the points safe.

The Mariners almost grabbed a consolation at the end, with Gary Jones again having a chance to get on the score-sheet, but missed with a header from around three yards out that bounced just past the outstretched Pilkington's right hand post.

It was a good battling performance by Notts, who deservedly got back to winning ways after defeat to Bristol Rovers in the league, followed by a further defeat in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. But after this result; the early season optimism appears to have been rekindled, with a belief that Notts can continue in their push up the football league, rather than a repeat of last season.