League Two Table
Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
By: Stephen Bateman
The Railwaymen chug their way in to Cleethorpes on Saturday afternoon as the Mariners square-off against the First Division's basement club. After losing to Crewe in his first game as Mariners boss, Lennie Lawrence will be keen to redress the balance in favour of Grimsby.
Both Lawrence and assistant manager John Cockerill are under no illusions as to the importance of this relegation scrap, with both men stressing that it would be unthinkable for the Mariners to lose against Crewe:
"It's a game we can't afford to lose," said Cockerill. "It was Lennie Lawrence's first game in charge when we played at their place and although we lost, we played very well and didn't really get what we deserved.
"It would be nice to start with three points but they won't come here and make it easy for us. I wouldn't expect them too, so we have to start well and play the game at our pace."
Meanwhile Lawrence, whose team is currently languishing in 19th place, told MarinersNet:
"They are four points behind us and have played a game more, so they need to keep in touch. Several teams from the bottom eight are playing teams from the higher echelons of the division, so if we get all three points it could have added statistical importance come 5 o'clock on Saturday."
John McDermott is definitely ruled out of the clash after picking up a calf-strain during a Tuesday morning training session, with the under-fire Danny Butterfield continuing to deputise in the right-back slot.
On a more positive note, Dutchman Menno Willems has recovered from a bruised foot and will be fit to take his place on the left of the Grimsby midfield, and he may well be supported by Knut Anders Fostervold in the left-back position.
The intimidating Norwegian looks set for a recall to the starting lineup in favour of Tony Gallimore, who is still struggling to recover full match-fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Chinese defender Zhang Enhua (pictured) will start from the bench after being sensationally dropped by an angry Lennie Lawrence. Enhua misses out as a punishment having gone AWOL for 48 hours earlier this week after a personally successful midweek trip to Italy with the Chinese squad. Enhua would have doubtlessly been hoping that he would have been given the opportunity to do against Crewe what he did against Lazio, after finding the net twice in Rome on Tuesday.
The Railwaymen have not travelled too badly this season for a club that is rooted to the bottom of the division, derailing their opponents on three occasions. Undoubtedly, like Grimsby, they will be looking upon Saturday's game as a real 'six-pointer'.
Left-sided midfielder Phil Charnock is still ruled out for Crewe, in spite of successfully completing an hour of football against Rhyl during the reserves 1-0 win in mid-week.
Also returning to action on Tuesday night was defender Dave Walton, who managed the full ninety minutes, but, like Charnock, the former Shrewsbury man will be given more time to recover before being thrown into the fray by Gradi.
With Crewe struggling to score goals recently - their last one came on December 23rd - Gradi will be looking to his forward line for improvements. The obvious Alex danger-man is Mark Rivers (pictured), a highly-rated product of the Crewe footballing academy.
Rivers is renowned for a blistering right-foot shot and can also prove problematic when drifting into wide areas - a threat that may prove particularly effective against Grimsby who are currently experiencing difficulties with both full-back positions.
Gradi, meanwhile, is grooming 17-year old starlet Dean Ashton for the big-time, with the striker looking likely to follow in the footsteps of previous Crewe trainees.
"I might put Dean on the bench at Grimsby as he's a bit nearer the first team now," said Gradi.
"I'm always looking to see if one of the youngsters is ready, and Dean suggests he is by his goal-scoring exploits. But he's a little bit younger than the others in the youth team so I'm aware it could be difficult physically for him and I don't want him getting a whack."
The widely respected Alex boss also spoke of his counterpart's recent tactic of bringing in overseas players on short term contracts:
"Lennie has changed things around at Grimsby since he arrived. He's brought in a quick guy up front, David Nielsen, and a few other players in on loan.
"I think he's strengthened his side since we played them in August and it'll be interesting to see by how much. But it's a game that is winnable for us, which is important."
Grimsby: Coyne, Croudson, McDermott, Butterfield, Handyside, R Smith, Enhua, Groves, Fostervold, Gallimore, Coldicott, Burnett, Willems, Campbell, Livingstone, Donovan, Nielsen.
Crewe: Bankole, Ince, Sodje, Foster, McCauley, Gannon, Lunt, Sorvel, Jack, Cramb, Rivers, Hulse, Ashton, Middle, Street, Smith.
The away fixture at Crewe (Lawrence's first game in charge) ended 0-2 to the Railwaymen in September. Last season's games between the two sides finished 1-1 both at home and away. For a complete list of fixtures between the two sides click here
Crewe fans looking for details on how to get to BP need look no further than our definitive guide.
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