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Fishy Scout: West Bromwich Albion

By: Fishy Scout
Date: 14/08/2001

THE MARINERS will be looking to maintain their positive start to the season when they travel to The Hawthorns on Saturday but fans making the trip to the West Midlands can expect a difficult afternoon. The Fishy has sent its Scout to cast his expert eye over what lies up the Baggies' sleeves.

Scott Dobie Albion were dealt a mortal blow during the summer when crowd favourite and lifelong Baggies fan Lee Hughes turned his back on the club and opted to join Coventry City in a lucrative £5 million deal, immediately thrusting young former Carlisle United forward Scott Dobie (left) into the limelight.

During the derby defeat inflicted by Midlands rivals Walsall the only real positive for manager Gary Megson was the performance of the raw 22-year-old target man.

It is beyond doubt that Dobie has immense talent, although he fell victim to a lack of confidence in front of goal whilst stranded at Brunton Park. At his best when playing with his back to the goal, he will prove to be more than a match for Paul Groves and David Beherall - who are expected to start the game in the centre of Grimsby's defence.

Dobie has excellent aerial ability and this, along with his physical presence and close control, will give Lennie Lawrence more than a few headaches. However, comfort can be taken in the fact that he is very much right-footed and has a tendency to drift out wide - and crossing is certainly not to be listed among his strengths.

The opening exchanges will be crucial in this battle as Groves - ever the wily old pro - and the less experienced Beherall look to unsettle the £2 million rated marksman with a few early robust challenges.

Another silver lining for Megson is the return to fitness of influential club skipper Derek McInnes. The tough-tackling Scot will look to shore up the midfield area by plugging the gap in front of the back four and he will prove a tough customer for Alan Pouton & Co to get to grips with.

The spine of the Albion side is continued in defence where Phil Gilchrist has been outstanding since joining the club from Leicester City at the back end of last season. Although he is not the quickest of defenders, he more than compensates for that by being one of the best readers of the game in the entire division.

If Grimsby are to penetrate The Baggies' defence they will look to exploit the pace of Phil Jevons, who can be expected to run at the back four for the full ninety minutes.

The main threat to the Town defence should come from experienced former Spurs and Newcastle winger Ruel Fox. Megson will have identified the left-hand flank being the weak point in The Mariners' armour and whoever fills the troublesome left-back spot can expect to be given a torrid time.

If Grimsby are to succeed in snuffing the wide man out, a lot of weight will be brought to bear upon the shoulders of young midfielder Stuart Campbell, who can be expected to be given a defensive briefing by Lawrence.

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