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No Surrender

By: The Grimsby Telegraph
Date: 23/04/2001

Thousands of Easter eggs were eaten in Grimsby over the weekend, but not one will have tasted as sweet as the Mariners' success at West Brom. The Great Escape may have been shown on the TV yesterday, but it was acted out at The Hawthorns where Town all but cemented their first division status.

Their courageous performance was all the greater for the stage it graced. On Saturday, the Mariners brought the house down but yesterday, in front of almost 17,000 partisan fans, they left the part-built auditorium in stunned silence.

The Buckley connection may be a thing of the past, but the rivalry was as strong as ever on the pitch.

A 69-year hoodoo at The Hawthorns, three ex-Baggies desperate to put the record straight, and a group of players who have stood to be counted when the pressure threatens to smash the barometer.

Stacy Coldicott strained every nerve and sinew in the middle while Kev Donovan probed forward and Paul Groves kicked sand in the face of those who doubted him during his days in the West Midlands - yet that was only part of the story.

It was Town's fourth away win of the season - and capped a thrilling Easter double - but was in stark contrast to those that had come before. The victories at Crystal Palace, Preston and QPR came at the defiance of Alamo-type sieges, but yesterday Lennie Lawrence's side won simply because they were the better team.

They rode their luck at times but went in at half-time with a justifiable lead that ridiculed the two sides' positions in the table.

After a practice-match opening Town found their rhythm first and took the game to their hosts with fierce determination.

While Coldicott consigned the memory of his red-card in the corresponding fixture last year to history, the irrepressible Alan Pouton worked tirelessly alongside him as the more cultured pairing of Richard Sneekes and Michael Appleton never got a look in.

Luke Cornwall continued his rapid progress and fired a 25-yarder which whistled over the bar before, 60 seconds later, finding the back of the net with a brilliant volley.

John McDermott floated a free-kick in from the right, Groves headed down and Cornwall took time to steady himself before firing home off the post to the delight of the few travelling fans.

It was his third goal in three games and, though it should have shaken West Brom from their stupor, it served only to push the Mariners forward in search of more Easter treats.

They nearly found them two minutes before the break. Steve Livingstone headed on and then charged down his own flick only for Russell Hoult to somehow keep out the big man's close-range header.

When the home side did break they found Peter Handyside and Groves in commanding form while Tony Gallimore gave former England man Ruel Fox little room for manouvre on the left.

When the Town defence was breached, Hughes air-kicked at a low cross from Fox and Groves and Co breathed again as the home crowd became increasingly edgy.

The introduction of the pacy Jason Roberts in the second half saw Lee Hughes switch to the left wing as the home side played with three strikers, and it was game on.

Roberts, Hughes and Bob Taylor took the game to Town and bombarded them with pressure, but there was no way through.

Taylor almost levelled 10 seconds after the restart but was brilliantly blocked by Handyside, with Fox firing over from the rebound.

Fox, drifting inside, then seemed to have forged his way through after wrong-footing Handyside only for the Scot to twist and block the goalbound strike.

As the pressure mounted, Roberts failed to connect with a Hughes cross from a short free-kick, and then the same combination almost produced a goal only for Roberts to head tamely wide, and you sensed it was Town's day.

Coldicott, booked in the first half, was lucky to stay on after a late tackle on Adam Chambers as Lawrence's side grew into the game and eventually began playing their way back into it.

As the Baggies became increasingly ragged Town surged forward and Livingstone almost topped it off with a second goal only for Hoult to save low and then deny Michael Jeffrey the rebound.

With the final whistle came scenes of jubilation as the Mariners celebrated a famous win and the culmination of a season which has seemed tougher than ever before.

Safety might not be 100 per cent certain just yet, but Town now lie two points off mid-table and the days of nervous glances over their shoulders are gone - for this season at least.

From: The Grimsby Telegraph

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