League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
By: Stephen Bateman
The Mariners kick-off their Christmas campaign later on today as they travel north to Deepdale in search of revenge against Preston North End. The Mariners went down to a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of David Moyes' men on the opening day of the season and will be keen to redress the balance.
After a flattering 2-0 victory against Norwich last week, Grimsby will be looking to improve their dismal away record against the Lilywhites. Steve Livingstone (flu) and Tony Gallimore (shin) return to the squad, although it seems that Mariners boss Lennie Lawrence will be afforded the luxury of being able to name an unchanged side.
In the absence of the unfortunate Peter Handyside, now laid low with flu, skipper Paul Groves and Chinese stopper Zhang Enhua will look to cement their defensive partnership that started so promisingly against the Canaries last week.
As the Mariners enter a hectic festive period that will see them play four games in just nine days, assistant manager John Cockerill is under no illusions as to the importance of a successful Christmas campaign:
"Not just these four matches but all our games in the next few weeks will be vital, especially the ones against sides in and around us in the table," said the former Grimsby midfielder.
"Our home form has been good and we must look to keep that going when we take on Stockport and Portsmouth, although first we have to make the trip to Preston."
After stressing the importance of not losing against Norwich, Lennie Lawrence was in a positive frame of mind, as he commented:
"A good result would help us and there is no reason why we can't go there in a positive frame of mind."
Anything less than a point on Saturday could well see the Mariners slide back into the relegation zone.
Town : Coyne, Butterfield, Fostervold, Groves, Enhua, Campbell, Coldicott, Burnett, Willems, Donovan, Nielsen, Croudson, R Smith, D Smith, Livingstone, Gallimore, Jeffrey.
Preston North End
After going down to a shock defeat at Gillingham last week, Preston boss David Moyes will be hoping to rekindle his side's promising start to their First Division campaign. It seems likely that Moyes may make a number of changes after witneesing his side slump to a 4-0 defeat at the Priestfield Stadium.
Although the North End boss has no fresh injury problems ahead of Saturday's clash, he will once again be deprived of the services of defender Ryan Kidd, who is back on the Deepdale traetment table after suffering a recurrence of a longstanding neck injury.
Moyes had hoped to complete the loan-signing of a new striker in time for the game, although it now seems likely that Jon Macken and Bjarki Gunnlaugsson will retain their places in the Preston front line.
Any such deal must be completed by 12 noon today, prompting the Scot to comment:
"We are still hopeful that we might have a new face in the set up for tomorrow. We can bring players in right up until 12 o'clock on a Saturday, so we will keep looking and hope something turns up for us."
After a successful return to first team action last week, influential former Manchester United midfielder Michael Appleton may earn a starting berth, with Sean Gregan dropping back into his preferred central-defensive role.
Moyes is clearly hoping for better things from his side against the Mariners, as he continued: "We have to do something different this week because we weren't happy with what happened last week.
"In recent weeks and months the players have responded to what we have done in the week and hopefully that will show on the pitch on Saturday.
"We do want to come away with some victories over the Christmas period and it would be nice to start with a victory against Grimsby."
Preston are currently one of the season's surprise packages as they look to build on their current eighth place position.
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