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Grimsby 3 Tranmere 1
By: Richard Lord
THREE goals in seven minutes settled the relegation battle as Grimsby overcame a dogged Tranmere 3-1 at Blundell Park. The visitors took the lead in the first half, only for substitutes Luke Cornwall and Steve Livingstone to turn the tie on its head with a goal blitz performance in the second half.
Grimsby lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Coyne in goal and a back four of McDermott, Gallimore, Handyside and Groves. Across midfield were Donovan, Campbell, Coldicott and Pouton. Jeffrey and Clare started up front, with Hyldgaard, Butterfield, Willems, Cornwall and Livingstone on the bench.
The game started in bizarre fashion with two bookings in the first minute. Coldicott and Mellon were the two players cautioned. Town began to dominate proceedings but failed to create any clear-cut chances. Most of their good work was coming down the wings, but Tranmere forced the Mariners to play narrow as the crowd became frustrated at the lack of goalmouth action.
Jeffrey poked the ball over the bar from 8 yards, but was already off-side, and Campbell had a header at the far post blocked just in front of the line. Ten minutes before half time Tranmere's most dangerous threat, Jason Koumas, was released through on goal with the linesman's flag remaining at his side. The young attacking midfielder raced through to slot past Coyne in goal.
Daryl Clare had the best chance of the half to grab a goal for Grimsby, but Achteberg spread himself well to block a close-range shot. Grimsby had had plenty of possession and won a handful of corners but they consistently failed to break down a determined Tranmere defence.
For the start of the second half manager Lennie Lawrence made a double substitution. Cornwall and Livingstone came off the bench to replace Jeffrey and Clare. Immediately Grimsby surged forward looking for goals but again they failed to carve out a good opportunity to level the scores.
On 65 minutes the break-though arrived. A corner from the right was headed away to the left where Pouton picked up the ball and sent it back into the area. The ball bounced in Cornwall's favour, and the young on-loan Fulham striker slotted the ball into the back of the net from close range.
Five minutes later a ball through from the right tempted the Tranmere keeper to rush out and collide with the on-rushing Livingstone. The ball squirmed loose and Donovan squared it across for Cornwall to tap in virtually on the line to put the Mariners in the lead.
Just two minutes after the second goal came the third. Livingstone's initial shot was blocked, but the powerful striker reacted well to pounce on the rebound and finish well. In between the first and second goals Tranmere's Flynn wasted a great headed opportunity at the far post to restore Tranmere's lead but he headed wide. At 2-1 another Flynn header was well saved by Coyne on his line.
In the final 20 minutes the Mariners contained their opposition well and only Koumas looked like altering the scoreline. It was a great second half performance, which was enough to turn around an ominous game, perhaps the season. Grimsby 3(0)-1(1) Tranmere
Tranmere: Koumas (27)
Grimsby: Cornwall (65, 70), Livingstone 72
Grimsby: Coyne, McDermott, Gallimore, Handyside, Groves, Coldicott, Pouton (Willems, 87) , Campbell, Donovan, Jeffrey (Cornwall, 46), Clare (Livingstone 46)
Subs not used: Hyldgaard, Butterfield
Bookings: Coldicott 1, Pouton 32, Cornwall 72
Tranmere: Achterberg (Murphy 73), Kenna, Roberts, Allen, Osborn, Yates, Flynn, Koumas, Mellon, Parkinson (Barlow 81), N'Diaye
Subs not used: Challinor, Taylor, Allison
Bookings: Mellon 1, Barlow 85
Referee: M J Brandwood (Lichfield)
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