Published: 21:30, 10 April 2014
Dartford are still alive and kicking in Skrill Premier after Max Cornhill's late goal sunk 10-man Grimsby on Thursday night.
The game seemed destined for stalemate at Princes Park until Cornhill popped up on 75 minutes to power Lee Noble's corner into the Mariners net for a priceless winner.
Victory lifted the Darts to within a point of safety and with only four games now remaining, they know the Great Escape can still be completed.
Elliot Bradbrook was missing for Dartford, the skipper having injured his thigh in the 0-0 draw at Lincoln on Saturday. Noble took his place and Ben Swallow was preferred to Alex Woodyard in a second midfield change.
The visitors had played Woking just 48 hours earlier and only goalkeeper James McKeown kept his place in the starting XI, with manager Paul Hurst changing all 10 outfield players.
Grimsby should have been ahead inside the first five minutes. Ross Hannah's deflected effort was palmed out by goalkeeper Alan Julian and Andy Cook shot over with the goal gaping.
The home side carried a decent threat down the right wing through Swallow, who was cutting in and delivering some dangerous crosses with his left foot. One of these caused momentary panic in the Mariners box before the men in navy shirts cleared the danger.
Cook almost made amends for his earlier miss with a stunning strike from the corner of the penalty area. Julian was totally beaten by the pace of the shot, which smashed against the underside of the bar, bounced down on the line and away.
At the other end, Mikel Suarez tried his luck from similar range but his radar was askew as the ball sailed well off target.
Set-pieces looked like Dartford's best route to goal. Lee Noble whipped in a corner from the left and Cornhill, arriving late, failed to hit the target with his header.
Both sides had chances to take the lead as the first half finished with a flurry. Oumare Tounkara's instinctive shot on the turn flashed past the base of Julian's post before Suarez glanced a header just wide from Noble's deep, flat delivery.
Grimsby registered the first real effort of the second period. Cook laid a pass into the feet of Joe Colbeck, who cut across the ball but saw his shot sail wide of the far post.
The home crowd turned up the volume in an effort to lift their side, who were working hard without creating much.
But it was the Mariners who looked the more likely scorers. Cook's fantastic header left Julian standing and hit the inside the far post as the Darts breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The game turned 15 minutes from the end. Noble was tripped on the edge of the box by Jamal Fyfield, who was shown a second yellow card by referee Paul Rees. Noble's free-kick deflected behind for a corner and Noble curled that onto the head of Cornhill, whose near-post effort flashed past McKeown and sent the home crowd beserk.
Dartford had let winning positions slip away from them late on in other games - but they weren't about to do it again.
The home supporters, who never stopped singing in the second half, roared in celebration at the final whistle and manager Tony Burman clenched his fist. Dartford live to fight another day.
Dartford: Julian, Burns, Mitchel-King, McAuley, Sterling, Noble, Cornhill, Stevenson, Swallow (Collier 72mins), Harris, Suarez (Eisa 72mins). Subs not used: Monger, Holloway, Woodyard.
Grimsby: McKeown, Doig, Colbeck, Cook, McDonald, Hannah (Winfarrah 76mins), Thanoj, Walker, McLaughlin, Fyfield, Tounkara (Southwell 65mins), Subs not used: Hedge, Humble, Charlesworth.
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