Lincoln City look no nearer to cracking the play-off hoodoo that has become the bane of their League Two promotion ambitions. A six-game unbeaten run earned Keith Alexander's side an extension to their season for the fourth consecutive year, but, with their home leg to come, Grimsby look favourites to progress to Cardiff.
Gary Jones' goal midway through the first half means the Mariners will start with an advantage at Blundell Park on Tuesday as they bid to ease the disappointment of missing automatic promotion on the final day of the regular season.
Lincoln thrashed their county rivals 5-0 at Sincil Bank only seven weeks ago but despite a high count of corners and attacking throw-ins never threatened a repeat, even though they had the ball in the Grimsby net twice before going behind. Jamie McCombe's header squeezed under the body of Steve Mildenhall but was ruled out for a push and Marvin Robinson's celebrations were cut short by an offside flag after his shot had beaten Grimsby's goalkeeper.
Former Birmingham midfielder Curtis Woodhouse - the player who is quitting the game for a professional boxing career - made his Premiership experience count for Grimsby, who went ahead after 22 minutes. Winger Andy Parkinson played a neat pass into the Lincoln box, where it was squared by Woodhouse to the former Nottingham Forest striker Jones.
Lee Beevers went close to an equaliser with a drive tipped over by Mildenhall, who was then relieved to see Robinson head wide. But Paul Bolland could have given Grimsby a second with a dipping 30-yard shot that struck the bar.
Alexander, who has twice suffered defeat in the play-off final, promised there was "more to come" from his side but Grimsby have not been beaten at home since January.Reuse content