Rotherham United's Reserves slipped to a narrow defeat against Grimsby Town in the Central League on Tuesday afternoon, with Joe Starbuck's second-half strike proving to be decisive at Blundell Park.
In a tightly contested first half in Lincolnshire, both sides jostled for possession in the middle of the park, and no real clear-cut chances were created during the opening 45 minutes.
Starbuck had the first sighting of goal with 12 minutes on the clock, but after finding a yard of space to let fly from distance, he was unable to conjure up enough power to trouble Laurence Bilboe who made a comfortable save.
The Millers goalkeeper was called into action again nine minutes later, but this time the save was a little less routine. Brandon Buckley managed to break in behind the back line, but his low strike was tipped around the post.
Jerome Greaves did prove to be a handful for the Mariners' defence with his pace and power, but he and his teammates found it difficult to trouble the Grimsby 'keeper despite some promising attacks.
After the break, it was the home side who came out the blocks quicker and they went ahead less than 60 seconds after the restart. Elliott Hewitt provided the assist with a pinpoint ball in from the right, and Starbuck made no mistakes with the finish to tuck one into the corner of the net.
Despite falling behind, the Millers didn't let their heads drop and they almost levelled things just four minutes later. Julien Lamy did well to drill a low strike on target, but the goalkeeper denied him with his feet. The Frenchman then saw one cleared off the line almost immediately afterwards.
Up the other end, Grimsby almost doubled their advantage on 64 minutes as Harry Cardwell sent one towards the bottom corner, only to watch his effort clip the woodwork on its way wide of goal.
The Millers then went agonisingly close to an equaliser just three minutes later as Greaves profited from a mistake by the goalkeeper to send a header towards goal from close range, but it bounced back off of the crossbar.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, the Mariners had three opportunities in quick succession hooked away from from on the line. Owen Davey, Ayodeji Owoeye and Cardwell were the men who got shots away, but they were all thwarted in what was the final meaningful attack of the afternoon.
Grimsby Town | Battersby, Hewitt, Öhman, Idehen, Hope, Khouri, Starbuck, Derrick (Davey 73'), Adlard (Owoeye 64'), Cardwell, Buckley.
Unused Subs | Smaller, Banks, Drinkell.
Rotherham United | Bilboe; Makwedza (Hanley 70'), Beeden, Hull, Hinds (C); Lamy, Peel-Evans, Spence, Hodgkinson (Kenny 70'); Gratton, Greaves.
Unused Subs | Smith, Scott, Etia.
Image courtesy of Carl Leslie.