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Lawrence: Happy With a Point

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 23/09/2001

GRIMSBY manager Lennie Lawrence was happy with a point at the end of the game with Stockport, an outcome he admitted he would have settled for before the start. "Midway through the first half we were in total control of the game and I thought we are going to go on and win this. " said Lawrence.

It was a match which Grimsby fell behind in three times, only to claw their way back to parity on each occasion. Stockport scored right at the start of the match, and again just before half time, with two headed goals. Both strikes were by former non-league player Neil Hardy, who cost just £10,000 from Radcliffe Borough in the summer, making his full debut for County.

"We let a goal in at a bad time again." said Lawrence on the Cheshire club's second goal. "Seconds to go, into injury time nearly in the first half. We get the second goal and they get their noses in front again. We showed great spirit and we played some nice stuff going forward and scored three goals."

"... We're a curious contradiction..."

Lawrence felt Town's current problems lie chiefly in their defensive unit (or lack of it). "The most polite I can be is to say the defending left a little bit to be desired." said the Town boss. "We're a curious contradiction: we've had five clean-sheets but we've let in eleven goals in the last four games, which is obviously no good. But their spirit's intact. It was very important not to lose and in truth I would have taken a point before the game.

"When you've just been bashed like Palace the most important thing in the world is you don't lose the next game - everything else is nonsense. And we've achieved that. Having come from behind three times there's something in that.

"... We didn't handle the set plays well enough...."

"It was an exciting game to be fair. Obviously I'm worried that we're letting too many goals in but we're still sixth, so on we go to Tuesday. If we'd got our noses in front we would have won. We didn't handle the set plays well enough. We improved as we went on in the second half, but we didn't handle them well enough in the first half. Once I put Marlon [Broomes] on to make it five at the back I'm thinking more about keeping the point although there was always a chance with Michael Boulding's pace on the break."

Lawrence, who earned the nickname Houdini in the 1980's after keeping Charlton in the top flight for several seasons on a shoestring budget, has pinpointed this month as a critical period which could decide Town's fate this season. "I said to the players before the game: Stockport, Rotherham, Gillingham - these are the teams we have to beat. Bradford's a hard one obviously. But we've got these three in the next four games. If we don't get beat at Stockport, and we can pick up a win and a draw at least from Gillingham and Rotherham then I would say the relegation battle is 95% disappeared." said the Grimsby boss

"... It's a key time for us now...."

"If we don't pick those points up then you're still nervous. It's a key time for us now. We've got off to a good start and we could just consolidate a little bit. Bradford, that'll be a hard one obviously, but we'll do our best. I personally would love to win there. Those two home games, if we get a win and a draw at least, that'll be 20 points by the first week of October and I'd be amazed if that could lead to a relegation battle with the spirit we've got in our side. If you don't get those points you never know..."

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