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Even Stevens!

By: Richard Lord
Date: 09/03/2002

A CRUEL last-minute equaliser denied Grimsby three points this afternoon in the big relegation clash against Walsall. Darren Byfield netted deep into added on time to keep the Saddlers in the race for safety, and deprived Town the chance to climb out of the bottom three.

Grimsby began the game with the same starting line-up that played against Gillingham on Tuesday. The game proved to be one where the elements played a big part, as a strong wind pushed down the pitch towards the Osmond end.

On his 400th appearance for the club, manager Paul Groves grabbed the first goal of the afternoon when he thumped a header past stranded Walsall keeper Walker from a Gallimore free kick.

Bradley Allen soon had a chance to double the lead after he pounced on a poor back pass, but was forced to push the ball wide. The striker seemed to pick up an injury from that incident, but he played on.

Towards the end of the half the away side couldn't manage to get the ball out of their own half, much due to the wind and the high balls played forward by Town. The Mariners won a succession of corners but failed to add to their goal.

In the second half it was Grimsby who had to fight against the win. However they were the first to score when Roper was guilty of a bizarre own goal.

Alan Pouton kept running down the left before back heeling to Gallimore. The left back passed to Pouton, who swung in a cross with his left foot, and a Walsall defender strangely attempted to head back to Walker from five yards out but hit his own post.

Before he had chance to react, Roper was hit by the rebounding ball and couldn't prevent it from crossing the line to give Town a 2-0 lead.

At this point the game looked safe and Bradley Allen was taken off and replaced by Coldicott - a move that will surely give the management team nightmares for days to come.

That switch invited Walsall forward, and with the wind behind them Town were subjected to an onslaught, with the defence failing to cope with unpredictable high balls held up in the wind.

The equaliser came from substitute George Leitao when he smashed home from close range after a great whipped-in cross.

Minutes later the visitors were convinced that they had pulled it level when a Byfield overhead kick was pushed onto the post by Coyne and collected on the line.

But that was just a warning of things to come, when in the very last minute of the game, the ball found its way to Byfield, who took his time and slotted under the onrushing Coyne.

With Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday both drawing, it means that Town's position in the league is still the same as it was before 3pm this afternoon. There's just a game less to play.

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