Question of the Week
How long before new manager arrives?
By: Stephen Bateman
Mariners boss Lennie Lawrence's message ahead of Saturday's crucial relegation battle with Stockport is clear. After seeing his side suffer two enormous setbacks over the past seven days, Lawrence now feels that it is time for his side to roll up their sleeves and start winning matches.
"If we want to stay in this division, we have to win seven more matches and then pick up the odd scrap here and there," said the Grimsby manager.
The spirit of the team will be tested to it's utmost on Saturday, as the Mariners look to pick themselves off the canvas after demoralising defeats against Crewe and Wycombe and prepare to slug it out with County in yet another vital six-pointer.
"They've got to dig deep but it's important we continue to pass it," Lawrence went on, "We don't bear the hallmarks of a team in the relegation battle between the two boxes. But in the two penalty areas we have done in recent times and that has to change."
Grimsby's opponents during the last 14 games have outscored them by an average of just under two goals to one - a situation that Lawrence is clearly unhappy about:
"We either have to look likely to score, or look watertight at the back. Quite frankly, we've got neither."
The Mariners were dealt a further blow ahead of the game when it was announced that full-back John McDermott (pictured) will not be available for selection. Danny Butterfield therefore retains his place and will be hoping for an improved performance to that on Boxing Day, when he was given a torrid time by Stockport winger Rob Matthews.
Lawrence also looks set to rotate Richard Smith and Peter Handyside once more, with Zhang Enhua and Paul Groves returning to the side after missing the midweek defeat against Wycombe.
Amidst speculation over training ground bust-ups and replacement signings, controversial striker David Nielsen will not be in the starting lineup as the recently impressive Mike Jeffrey is handed his second start in four days.
Grimsby Town: Coyne, Croudson, Butterfield, Groves, Enhua, R Smith, Handyside, Gallimore, Coldicott, Campbell, Willems, Burnett, D Smith, Donovan, Livingstone, Jeffrey.
After a mediocre performance during their 0-0 draw away to Huddersfield last week, Hatters boss Andy Kilner will be hoping for an improved showing against a Grimsby side that he will be expecting to beat.
Impressive winger Rob Matthews (pictured) looks likely to force his way into the starting-lineup after posing the Terriers constant problems down their right flank, although Kent Bergersen is still ruled out.
It is unlikely that Kilner will be able to secure the talents of highly-rated Ayr United youngster Glynn Hurst before Saturday's fixture, so County look set to start the match with the same lineup that finished in West Yorkshire last week.
Skipper Mike Flynn is under no illusions as to the importance of this game, as he told the Manchester press:
"'It's an absolutely huge game for both teams."
"'We've been on a great run, losing only twice in 12 games, and we have to make sure we don't shoot ourselves in the foot like we have done against some of the smaller clubs."
With County just two points ahead of the Mariners in the first division relegation scrap, the men from Edgeley Park will be hoping to create a little breathing space on Saturday afternoon.
County: Jones; Flynn, Clark, Cooper, Gibb, Wiss, Fradin, Grayson, Wilbraham, Smith, Clare, Matthews, Woodthorpe, Dibble, Maxwell, Nicholson.
The Boxing Day game between the two sides ended 1-1 at Blundell Park, after the Cheshire outfit had gone into a 1-0 lead, before Wayne Burnett grabbed a slightly fortunate point for the Mariners.
Real Audio commentary of the game for those not able to go can be heard here.
Town fans looking for details on how to get to Edgeley Park need look no further than our counterparts at Stockport definitive guide.
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