Grimsby Town 0-1 Newport County

Grimsby's Cleveland Taylor and Newport Andy Sandell battle for the ball

Newport County will take a one goal lead into Sunday's Blue Square Bet Premier play-off semi-final second leg after a 1-0 win at Grimsby Town.

Ismail Yakubu's header took a deflection off Ian Miller for the only goal of the game two minutes from time in a tight game at Blundell Park.

Craig Disley had Grimsby's best chance of the game in the second half when his header hit the post.

The two sides will meet again in the second leg at Rodney Parade on Sunday.

Grimsby had beaten Newport 3-0 at Blundell Park four days previously on the final day of the regular season.

Newport manager Justin Edinburgh had rested several players for that game and his side showed seven changes for the first leg.

The Mariners - managed by Rob Scott and Paul Hurst - in contrast made three changes with goalkeeper James McKeown, Shaun Pearson and Andy Cooke restored to the starting line-up.

Grimsby went into the game boasting the best defensive record in the Blue Square Bet Premier, having finished the regular season fourth and two points behind third-placed County.

In a scrappy opening to the game Liam Hearn saw a header, from Sam Hatton's free-kick, smothered by Lenny Pidgeley.

Newport responded and Yakubu headed wide from Mike Flynn's cross before David Pipe fired over the cross bar.

Pipe, Newport's captain, volleyed high and wide of the post while Pidgeley was kept on his toes by efforts from Hearn and Jamie Devitt.

The two sides were evenly matched during the first half but Grimsby came close to taking the lead in stoppage time.

Pidgeley could not hold on to Devitt's effort from the edge of the box but the keeper made amends when he denied Aswad Thomas in the resultant scramble.

Devitt tried his luck from distance in the opening minutes of the second half but his weak shot did not trouble Pidgeley while an effort over the crossbar was the winger's last effort before he was replaced by Andi Thanoj.

Andy Sandell did have the ball in the net for Newport but referee Graham Horwood had already blown for a foul by Christian Jolley on centre-half Miller.

Cleveland Taylor skied an effort over the crossbar after good work from Thomas on the left had set up the on-loan Burton midfielder and the woodwork came to Newport's rescue when Craig Disley's header hit the post before Tony James cleared the danger

But two minutes from time the visitors broke the deadlock when Yakubu met substitute Robbie Wilmott's inswinging free-kick and his header took a slight deflection off defender Miller to beat McKeown.

Newport will have a one goal advantage going into Sunday's second leg at Rodney Parade with a final at Wembley against Wrexham or Kidderminster the prize.

VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Grimsby joint-boss Rob Scott told BBC Radio Humberside:

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Scott frustrated with play-off defeat

"I think we deserved a point. I don't think either team created too much. It was as it panned out. We said before the game it was going to be a tense affair.

"Frustration is the over-riding feeling at the moment.

"We've got a squad here that's competitive and we felt that we'd rather have Andi Thanoj in the squad in case we wanted to change things around."

Newport County manager Justin Edinburgh told BBC Radio Wales:

"I thought we were disciplined, dogged and resolute - all the things you need to come to a place like Grimsby, who have a fantastic home record.

"There was nothing between the two sides and I thought we were outstanding, We started ever so bright and took the game to Grimsby.

"Slowly they got back into the game and they pressed us back second half. The whole team defended outstandingly."

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