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Town Steal The Points

By: Stephen Bateman
Date: 23/12/2000

Grimsby Town edged further away fom the relegation zone this afternoon after stealing the points in a 2-1 win at Preston. The match had seemed destined for a draw, before Paul Groves rose to head home the winner from a Stuart Campbell cross.

The stunned Mariners found themselves behind with just nineteen seconds on the clock, after Zhang Enhua had brought down Bjarki Gunnlaugsson on the edge of the penalty area. Bizarrely, the Chinese defender (who speaks barely a word of English) chose to contest the referee's decision, while former-Scunthorpe defender Graham Alexander took a quick free-kick to the unmarked Gunnlaugsson.

The Icelandic forward then squared the ball to Jon Macken who span before firing a shot past a helpless Danny Coyne, into the roof of the Grimsby net.

Groves, who partnered Enhua in the Mariners defence, refused to blame the Chinese international, saying: "We were aware that they'd come at us after getting beaten by Gilllingham and we just didn't deal with it very well.

"The whole side started the game lackadaisically and we found ourselves 1-0 down, but from thereon in, I thought we deserved some credit."

Preston thought that they had doubled their lead on twelve minutes, but Michael Jackson's effort was ruled out after a foul on Coyne.

The Mariners then began to soak up the home side's pressure, whilst also creating a few chances of their own, with on-loan Vitesse Arnhem midfielder Menno Willems being foiled only by the outstretched leg of Alexander.

However, the Dutchman was not to be denied, as minutes later, he bent a free-kick around a badly positioned Preston wall. North End 'keeper Tepi Moilanen watched incredulously as the ball fizzed between him and his near post, setting the Mariners on level terms after thirty minutes.

"It was a difficult angle, but Menno does strike a good ball," said Groves. "I think that one or two of their players will be looking towards their keeper, but from our point of view, it was a good strike and nothing more than we deserved."

Coyne then almost gifted the Lilywhites the lead in the 56th minute, after failing to hold on to a Graham Alexander corner. Somehow, the ball was forced onto the bar, before a Mariners boot managed to hack the ball away to safety.

After withstanding an intense period of Preston pressure, Grimsby stole the points in the 81st minute. A well worked short-corner provided Stuart Campbell with the space to whip in a pin-point cross, providing Groves with the perfect opportunity to head home from close range.

"It just fell in my area," commented the Grimsby captain, "I leapt and managed to get my head on it. It was all down to a good team performance from everyone involved.

"We worked hard and got ourselves a decent result here."

Preston: Moilanen Alexander, Edwards, Jackson, Gregan, Cartwright (Murdock 82), Rankine (Ludden 68), Appleton, McKenna, Gunnlaugsson (Robinson 22), Macken.
Subs not used: Barry-Murphy, Lonergan

Booked: Gregan (90)

Grimsby Town: Coyne, Butterfield, Fostervold, Enhua (R Smith 61), Groves, Coldicott, Burnett (Livingstone 83), Campbell, Willems, Donovan, Nielsen (Jeffrey 89).
Subs not used: Croudson, D Smith

Booked: Coldicott (72)

Attendance: 14,667

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