Lincoln City 0 Grimsby Town 1: Grimsby revenge as rivals face play-off failure again

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The Independent Football

At least Russell Slade did not have to use his flipchart in the centre circle this time. When Grimsby last visited Sincil Bank in March, their manager was so incensed by his side's inept performance - they trailed by four goals to their fiercest rivals - that he held his half-time team talk out on the pitch.

The public humiliation worked because only one more goal was conceded and the Mariners eventually came agonisingly close to gaining automatic promotion. On Saturday, Gary Jones's 16th goal of the season gave them what may be a vital lead before tomorrow's League Two semi-final second leg which threatens to leave Lincoln with a fourth successive play-off failure.

"We let ourselves down in March," said Slade. "The point was made that it was unacceptable and since then we've not conceded more than one goal in a match. This time the players were very resilient and I'm very proud of them."

Despite impressing in the opening quarter of the match, Grimsby were fortunate not to fall behind when Jamie McCombe's header from a Jeff Hughes corner was disallowed for pushing in the 18th minute. Four minutes later, Andy Parkinson sent in Curtis Woodhouse, who crossed for Jones to slide the ball home from six yards.

Before half-time, Steve Mildenhall kept out a Hughes free-kick and then tipped over a stinging 20-yarder from Lee Beevers. Four minutes after the break, Grimsby almost doubled the lead when Paul Bolland's 25-yard shot hit the bar.

Lincoln dominated the rest of the match but created little until the third minute of stoppage time. From Scott Kerr's corner, Nat Brown's header was cleared off the line before Gareth McAuley hit a post. "I'm quite pleased with our performance," said the Lincoln manager, Keith Alexander, "but we weren't at our best and I think we've got a bit more to offer."

Goal: Jones (22) 0-1.

Lincoln City: (3-4-3) Marriott; McCombe, Morgan, McAuley; Beevers (Frecklington 61), Brown, Kerr, Hughes; Green (Yeo, 61); Forrester, Robinson (Birch, 76). Substitutes not used: Mayo, Cryan.

Grimsby Town: (4-4-2) Mildenhall; McDermott (Croft ,18), Futcher, Whittle, Newey; Cohen (Reddy, 69), Bolland, Woodhouse, Parkinson; Jones, Mendes (Toner, 78). Substitutes not used: Kamudimba, Goodfellow.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

Booked: Lincoln City Robinson; Grimsby Woodhouse, Cohen, Futcher.

Man of the match: Parkinson.

Attendance: 8,037.