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Blades Preview

By: Stephen Bateman
Date: 23/04/2001

THE MARINERS head into Saturday's clash with Sheffield United as one of Division One's form teams after three consecutive victories. Success against The Blades on Saturday should guarantee Grimsby's First Division status - a magnificent achievement by Lennie Lawrence and his men.

Recent wins against Tranmere, Watford and West Brom have seen Town elevate themselves to 17th place in the First Division - seven points clear of the relegation scrap - and three more points on Saturday would see them surpass last season's points tally achieved under Alan Buckley.

Lawrence is expected to persist with the line-up that started against West Brom, with the ever-industrious Steve Livingstone to act once again as a foil for the precocious talents of Luke Cornwall, while Stacy Coldicott is expected to continue in a central midfield role.

Grimsby's only injury concern is Wayne Burnett, who looks set to be sidelined for the remainder of the season after receiving a blow to the knee.

The two teams last met during November in a heated contest that saw skipper Paul Groves dismissed for the first time in his Grimsby Town career. The Blades ran out narrow 3-2 winners on that occasion and Town will doubtless be looking to redress the balance at Blundell Park on Saturday.

United manager Neil Warnock recently wrote off The Blades' season after it became apparent that they would not reach the play-offs this term. The former Scarborough boss cited a lack of strength in depth as a reason for his side's failings and has pledged to strengthen his squad during the summer months.

Ex-Gillingham striker Carl Asaba, who played in the mid-week defeat at home to Wimbledon, is expected to start up front for The Blades after being rested against The Gills at the weekend.

Recent weeks have seen an alarming slump in fortune for The Blades and the fact that they have won just one of their last nine fixtures would suggest that they could be there for the taking on Saturday.

Lawrence has made it perfectly clear that he has no intention of letting his side take their foot off the gas as they ease towards safety, saying: "The season will come to an end soon, but we want to keep the momentum going and finish on a high note.

"You must seize the moment and we can't say we'll settle for this. The work starts here. The message is dead simple: We've done this, and credit to everybody, but I'm interested in moving Grimsby Town on and up. I want to kick this place on."

Mariners keeper Danny Coyne, who has for many been the outstanding shot-stopper in the First Division this season, is bullish going into the game and believes that The Mariners have an excellent chance of taking the points against United.

"There are still four games left and we will try to get as many points from them as we can. The gaffer said he wants to beat last years points tally, so that's what we're trying to do," said the 27-year-old, who is expected to join Premiership outfit Aston Villa during the summer.

"If we keep doing as we have, if we show the same sort of commitment and determination, then we'll have a great chance against Sheffield United," he enthused.

Traditionally, The Blades enjoy their trips to Blundell Park, winning 13 of the 26 fixtures that have been played in Cleethorpes since 1892. If The Mariners are to buck this trend, they will have to show every ounce of bite and commitment that has been evident throughout the team over the past three games.

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