The Harriers unbeaten home record came to an end today after we ruled the game against Grimsby with probably our best display of the season. Sadly a lapse late on gave them the winner as debutant Rhys Oates capitalised on an injury to Jared Hodgkiss to score in the eighty fifth minute.
This game was going to be the real test of how Harriers would be doing this season against one of the favourites for promotion. We had won 4-0 on Tuesday evening against Altrincham but this was going to be a sterner test. Up front for us Michael Gash was starting once more but in a change to Tuesday his partner on the evening, Craig Reid, was demoted to the bench in favour of Reece Styche while Hodgkiss returned in defence in place of Jake Green. Also on the bench was Callum Gittings returning from injury.
Grimsby, five places below us at the start of the game, started the game the strongest but once the Harriers found their rhythm they soon took control of the proceedings. After Scott Brown saw his long range effort go close for the visitors the Harriers upped the work rate and also went close with a shot from Styche that took a deflection and went out for a corner, one of many for the home side that went unrewarded.
Marvin Johnson was having the time of his life running rings around the beefy looking Carl Magnay (and some fans criticise Gash for being overweight!) and sending in chance after chance that all it needed was someone to get on the end of one of his teasing balls in. Some of his trickery was top drawer and, in fact, our passing as a whole was possibly the best seen at Aggborough for a long time. It was just that final ball letting us down.
Our first real chance of the game came through a Kevin Nicholson free kick that the Grimsby keeper James McKeown did well to scrabble across the goal to keep out. A minute later and he should have been beaten when Johnson set off on an incredible run, beating one man and then another, before squaring up to the keeper. Sadly he chose the wrong time to shoot and did so from outside the area when, instead, he could have advanced a bit closer to really test McKeown. As it was the keeper parried the ball away as far as Gash who then made the miss of the season and ballooned the ball over the South Stand.
We were now taking Grimsby to the cleaners in terms of possession and ball play but it was still in front of goal that we were being let down. Styche missed a great chance to get on the scoresheet but sent his chance wide and then a moment later he was deemed offside when a Johnson shot went zooming in.
Jack Mackreth had an opportunity to score for the Mariners but was denied at the last breath by Hodgkiss who had got back enough to put him off and then Josh Gowling also made a wonderful last ditch tackle to deny Scott Neilson of a similar chance.
The half drew to a close with the game all square and all to play for. The Harriers had been the best side by far but needed to up the ante slightly for the second half if they hoped to go on and win.