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Sunday's Division One Round-Up: Week 15
By: Richard Lord
AFTER suffering six defeats in six games, Grimsby are beginning to turn the corner and they have now lost just two of their last five.
Their ability to grind out results against talented teams was apparent on Saturday when they drew 2-2 with Millwall. Report|
Barnsley 1-1 Wimbledon
Bradford 2-0 Walsall
Coventry 0-2 Burnley
Crystal Palace 4-1 Crewe
Grimsby 2-2 Millwall
Notts Forest 1-1 Preston
Portsmouth 2-1 Man City
Rotherham 2-1 West Brom
Sheff Utd 4-0 Birmingham
Before today's two games featuring Gillingham, Watford, Wolves and Sheff Wed, the current table sees Burnley at the summit of the division after their impressive away win at Coventry. The top half of the table is fairly irrelevant to the Mariners, and it is the bottom ten which they are more concerned with. Wimbledon did Grimsby a favour by denying Barnsley three points with a late goal at Oakwell, and Bradford defeated Walsall 2-0 which meant Town's point against Millwall was enough to push them up a place in the table. However, struggling Sheff Utd hammered Birmingham 4-0 and Rotherham won their fifth game of the season against high-flying West Brom. Stockport won on Thursday which all means it gets tighter at the bottom.
Sheff Wed, Barnsley and Stockport occupy the bottom three places, then Gillingham and Walsall complete the bottom five with Grimsby lying just above. Unfortunately Town have played more games than any of the bottom five and Gillingham in particular have three games in hand and are just two points behind the Mariners before their game today at home to Watford.
There are many talented players emerging in this division, none for so than Sheff Utd's Michael Tonge. The youngster was thrown in at the deep end early in the season but has remained in the Blades' midfield ever since. He featured in the starting eleven when the Mariners went down 3-1 at Bramall Lane earlier this season.
After Darren Huckerby's (left) unhappy time at Premiership giants Leeds, the former Coventry front man has enjoyed life so far in division one. Scoring four goals in a cup match against Birmingham gave his season the kick-start it needed and he is now featuring regularly on the scoresheet in the league.
Bradford's reserve goalkeeper and ex-Grimsby shot-stopper Aidan Davison has been earning rave reviews from his recent performances, especially the one at Norwich last week. This week he kept a clean sheet against Walsall as his team begin to push back up the division after following the Mariners' trend over the last two months, by plummeting down into the bottom half after a good start.
Town's Next Opponents
Burnley are top of the league, and it's no fluke. They have earned the right to be sitting at the top after beating off several top clubs to get there. Their season began almost as well as Grimsby's and they were the team to knock Grimsby off the top on September 2 when they beat Bradford 3-2 at Valley Parade. Since topping the table in early September they slid down the league as Wolves overtook them and Man City at one point. Now, they may have played more games than the teams immediately below them, but they have successfully bagged the points and are currently top by three clear points, although Wolves could overtake them if they win this afternoon against lowly Sheff Wed. The Claret and Blues certainly know where the goal is, as they have scored a total of 39 goals this season, compared to Grimsby's 21. However, at Turf Moor they are exceptionally strong where they have lost just once - that being a 4-2 defeat to Man City. They have otherwise won six and drawn three at home whereas the Mariners have won twice, drawn twice and lost six times away from home. Fortunately Burnley aren't too clever at defending at home as they have conceded 15 goals, the joint fifth-worst defensive record in the league.
Path for Grimsby
Grimsby's next game is this coming Friday when they travel to Turf Moor to face a buoyant Burnley who currently sit proudly on top of the league. This game is due to be screened live on ITV Sport but could be the first match to be effected by the strike the players are threatening. The following Tuesday is the big game when the Town squad and over 5,000 people will be travelling to Arsenal hoping for a repeat performance of the Liverpool success. Then on the Saturday Grimsby arguably have a bigger game in the league when they entertain Man City at Blundell Park. The Mariners then have a week off before they face Wolves at Molineux, a place where Town have had very little success in recent years. If somehow the Mariners progress to the fifth round of the League Cup, the tie is planned to be on either 12 or 13 December. Then it could be another six-pointer when Grimsby have to make the trip to Walsall. Full Fixture List.
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