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The Battle Of Lincolnshire - Grimsby vs Lincoln !
By: Stephen Bateman
GRIMSBY TOWN will be hoping to put one over on former manager Alan Buckley this Tuesday as they square off against Lincoln City at Blundell Park in the First Round of the Worthington Cup. In spite of The Mariners' far superior league status, Lincoln should not be underestimated, however.
Buckley has quickly revamped the Imps style of play, eschewing the long-ball game which was played under former manager Phil Stant in favour of the pass-and-move system with which Grimsby fans are so familiar.
The key to such a system is to be found in midfield, where Town will look to harass and hurry the Imps engine room, not allowing them time to settle on the ball.
City captain John Finnigan will be instrumental in the night's proceedings, performing a similar role to that which was traditionally played by Paul Groves in Buckley's Grimsby midfield. Finnigan, who was linked with a move to Blundell Park last season, is always available for the 'valve-pass' should his side's possession look to be under threat, and he is also capable of bursting from midfield to take up dangerous positions inside the opposition's penalty box.
Another ploy which is often used by Buckley is to get the ball out to left-winger Peter Gain as quickly as possible, allowing strikers Tony Battersby and Lee Thorpe time to roam into the area as he attempts to get the better of the covering right-back.
Battersby and Thorpe have developed an excellent understanding over the years, and the Mariners defence, which looks set to include midfielder Menno Willems as a makeshift centre-half, will have to be on their guard against the deft flicks and back-heels which have become Buckley trademarks over the years and can so easily slice wide open the most experienced of defences.
Defensively The Imps are reasonably solid, although they may have a weakness at centre-half where wily old campaigner Steve Holmes will look to continue his fostering of the inexperienced Paul Morgan.
The duo have already proven that they are capable of dealing with aerial bombardment, successfully snuffing out Rushden & Diamonds target-man Warren Patmore last Thursday, although the introduction of burly Diamonds forward Duane Darby, coupled with the pace of Justin Jackson, caused City all kinds of problems.
Holmes is not the quickest on his feet, and that could tempt Town boss Lennie Lawrence to stick with the youthful duo of Phil Jevons and Jonny Rowan up front.
At full-back, Stuart Bimson and Jason Barnett are both adequate defenders, although the Mariners lack of any real attacking width may present them with the opportunity to do what they do best, namely pushing up the flanks to both support and initiate attacks.
Finally, young goalkeeper Andy Marriott is a competent shot-stopper, although his occasional tendency to drift off and start thinking about the lass who lives next-door-but-one can cause the odd moment of hilarity.
Lennie Lawrence wants to beat Lincoln for the fans Click here for full story!
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