It was a real battle for the points at Holker Street on Saturday afternoon but a record equalling 20th clean sheet of the season was complemented by a first goal for the club from Ben Barclay as the Blues did what had to be done to take the spoils.
Speaking after the game, manager Paul Simpson said: “The players delivered and it was all about blood and guts.
“I look at their team selection over the last few weeks and I think they’ve thrown all their eggs in one basket just to try and mess us up.
“I’m so happy with the character that the players have shown to come through that because that was a battle. They wanted to make it a scrap but we’ve got three points and I don’t care how we did it.”
“I felt we set the tone by the way we started,” he continued. “It’s a goal from a set play and that always gives you a bit of a lift. I do think we had so many opportunities on transitions where with a little bit better care on it we could have actually won even more convincingly.
“I know there was a scare at the end when they hit the post but they were throwing everything at us at that point. We defended so well throughout the 100 minutes and the two centre backs were outstanding for us.
“Ben Barclay and Jack Armer put a real shift in, and there were moments in the game which summed up the attitude and desire. Callum Guy went on a run that showed real desire and we just needed that extra little bit of care there as well.
“I think the performance has shown all of our supporters that these lads want it. They want it really badly and they want to do everything they possibly can to get the outcome we’ve worked so hard for.
“To come to what are our local rivals and beat them again, for a second time this season, that’s the double over them, that’s massive and really pleasing. We have even more to build on going into next week now.”
From a game like that, and at this stage of the season, it’s always about the end result.
“Without a doubt it was bodies on the line, heads on the line, and I thought defensively we were outstanding,” he agreed.
“To take it to 20 clean sheets this season, that’s some going, that’s a real achievement, the goals are a bonus, but to get the clean sheet is massive as well.
“We had some good football moments but it was more about rolling sleeves up, earning the right and earning three points.
“And we got important moments from every player. That’s what you get when a team wants something. And they have real ability, I’ve never doubted that, but they’ve also shown character and personality.
“That’s the big thing to come from it. There were so many good things and the thing that really matters at the moment is winning games. If you’re playing in a local derby against your rivals you have to do whatever it takes to get a result.
WThe scenes at the end there with the players celebrating in front of our supporters is absolutely magnificent to see. To get that many, and I think we could have brought double that amount if we’d been allowed to. They’ve come, they’ve made the noise, and it’s absolutely fantastic for them. It was also good to see all of the players who couldn’t be involved in the game also here celebrating with us.
“We had Morgan Feeney, Taylor Charters, Jayden Harris, Josh Dixon and Joel Senior all in the stands kicking every ball. That’s really important because we all need to stick together over these next few weeks.”
That first-half backheel from Barclay was a reward for the way the players set about their task.
“It was brilliant, and I said to Gav before the game that it was about who could get the first goal,” he revealed. “Thankfully it was us who got that foothold.
“It was a really big goal to get, that early on in the game. I didn’t even know who scored it at the time but obviously Ben bundled it over the line. It’s just about getting goals, we have the set-up right, they all have runs they have to make, we know where the delivery’s got to go and on that occasion Mox put it right on the money.
“Kristian Dennis gets a flick at the near post, it’s really difficult to defend against that. I’m pleased with so many things but the biggest thing for me is the character they’ve shown, the way they’ve defended, they’ve dug in, quite a hostile crowd even though there’s not many turn up, I felt they dealt with it all really well and kept their discipline.”
And it was a day where, if there were any nerves, they were brushed aside as the performance became the focus.
“I think there are nerves, there’s bound to be, but it’s how you channel it and deal with it,” the gaffer told us. “I thought they dealt with it really well.
“Like I say, it was important we kept our discipline and I thought we did that really well. It was very important we kept 11 players on the pitch and it could have easily boiled over and tipped over the edge, but our players really stuck to the task well, focused on the football and the defending side of it, and in the end that’s why we got three points.
“That’s all it’s about when you have only a few games left to play. Yes everybody would love a fantastic game of football, but this was never going to be like that. It was two teams who went hammer and tongs trying to get the result.
“They desperately wanted it, and I get that. They went all-out to beat us. From some of the stuff we’ve heard, two Cumbrian clubs wanting the best for each other, obviously not the case – I get that as well, not really bothered, but I’m so happy that we’ve won, really happy that we’ve won, and let’s see what comes.”
“All I said at the end was well done,” he concluded. “Brilliant character. I think you could see they desperately wanted to trip us up.
“I’m hearing stories about their chairman celebrating in Grimsby’s directors’ box when we go a goal down last Tuesday night. There’s no love lost, I can assure you of that. This is a big win for us, absolutely delighted to have got it.”