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National League Promotion Final

15 May 2016 - 4:00 PM

After a six-year wait to return to the Football League, it’s no surprise manager Paul Hurst admitted Grimsby Town’s Conference play-off final win over Forest Green Rovers at Wembley Stadium would take some sinking in.

Twelve months on from suffering penalty shootout heartbreak to Bristol Rovers, there were only smiles on the faces of Mariners players as they ran out 3-1 winners.

Two goals in quick succession before the break from Omar Bogle saw the team – playing in the play-offs for the fourth consecutive year – in control.

And while Forest Green’s Keanu Marsh-Brown did fire in a 30-yard strike to give his side hope, Hurst’s side wrapped up the win in stoppage time through Nathan Arnold.

“The emotions haven’t quite come out yet, we had a couple of little moments but that’s it,” said Hurst, whose side could yet enjoy further Wembley success this season with Grimsby taking on FC Halifax in the FA Trophy Final on May 22.

“So I’m sure over the course of tomorrow and a couple of days on the achievement will sink in.

“But the biggest thing for me is that it’s for the players and certainly the staff, particularly [assistant manager] Chris Doig and [goalkeeping coach] Andy Warrington. The club are extremely lucky to have them.

“Ultimately you could be labelled a nearly man, so I’m quite pleased I don’t have that on my CV but rather promotion.

“That’s a personal achievement for me. This league is extremely difficult to get out of, and the staff and group of players over the last four seasons have given us a great effort to give us a chance of promotion.”

It was Forest Green’s David Pipe who had the first effort inside the opening minute when he headed Elliott Frear’s cross towards keeper James McKeown, while the Grimsby man had to be alert to keep out Aaran Racine’s curling effort.

Forward Nathan Arnold thought he had given Grimsby the lead on 39 minutes when his 30-yard drive beat Forest Green’s Steve Arnold but not the post.

But their pressure paid off three minutes later when a curling free-kick into the box met the head of Bogle and deflected into the net.

Bogle doubled his tally a minute later when another Nathan Arnold strike was fumbled by Steve Arnold, leaving Bogle to tap the ball into an open goal.

Forest Green, who had new manager Mark Cooper offering guidance from the dugout, kept going and their efforts were rewarded when Marsh-Brown drove his effort past McKeown on 60 minutes.

With 15 minutes left to play, Steve Arnold was called to action as he made a superb save to deny Nathan Arnold.

But the equaliser was not forthcoming with Grimsby wrapping up the win when Jon Nolan’s effort was parried and Nathan Arnold rounded namesake Steve to tap in.

Caretaker boss Scott Bartlett said: “Grimsby Town taking their two chances and us not taking a couple after half-time was the difference really between the two sides.

“Conceding the first one wasn’t a huge issue because there was plenty of time to recover, but to concede again soon after made it difficult for us.

“Sometimes you’ve got say well done to the other side. I thought Grimsby did well and to be fair they deserve to be there in League Two because they put their chances away.

“We got rattled and that can happen. We saw Grimsby doing the same when we scored so you know had we gone on and scored we may have gone on and won the game.

“But it is what is. The boys are very down because they’re very passionate about the football club.”

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