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Heavy Defeat For Lacklustre Mariners

By: Richard Lord
Date: 30/03/2002

GRIMSBY Town today suffered their heaviest defeat under the management of Paul Groves this afternoon when they were thumped 4-0 at Birmingham City. Two goals in each half completed a miserable day for the Mariners and their travelling fans.

The team was unchanged from the one that beat Wimbledon so convincingly last weekend, but there were places for new boys Willie Falconer and Paul Robinson on the bench, with Rowan and Jevons not making the squad of 16.

Birmingham were looking for a win that would take them into the top six while Town were aiming to extend their recent good form. After 10 minutes Stuart Campbell showed real initiative when the midfielder nearly scored from distance but the Blues' keeper Nico Vaesen made a great save and tipped the shot over the bar.

Five minutes later Danny Butterfield had a chance to open the scoring but again Vaesen pulled of a superb block to deny the right winger.

It was a bright start by the visitors but Lazaridis worked Coyne for the first time from a header, and just moments later Birmingham had taken the lead when the defence failed to contain a Kenna cross and Bryan Hughes tucked his shot home past Coyne.

Ten minutes later and the same player doubled the lead when an uncharacteristic mistake by captain John McDermott gave Hughes the chance to make it 2-0, and the midfielder duly obliged.

Grimsby almost made an immediate reply but the linesman failed to give a corner after a shot was deflected behind. The wide men later combined when Campbell headed just wide after a Butterfield cross.

Just before half time Tommy Mooney exposed the sloppiness in the Mariners defence and almost made it 3-0 but failed to convert. Allen had half a chance to pull a goal back but he slipped as he tried to turn and shoot.

The second half began well for the visitors, who won a succession of corners but failed to carve out an opportunity. Then the home side went down the other end of the field and made it 3-0 through Stern John.

Time and time again the Grimsby defence looked vulnerable to the power and pace of Birmingham's attacks, and the home side should have made it 4-0 before they actually did on 63 minutes.

Tony Gallimore made a real howler to let in Johnson who applied the finish to make it a terrible afternoon for the Mariners.

Luckily for Grimsby it was the end to the scoring and certain players were taken off in preparation for the big Monday clash against Sheffield Wednesday at Blundell Park.

Both Falconer and Robinson were given a chance to impress, and it was Robinson who came closest, but that didn't hide the fact that Birmingham had chances to make it 5-0.

The game finally came to an end and means that all the Mariners' hard work of last week's 6-2 win means their goal difference has come crashing back down.

Although Grimsby's destiny is in their own hands, no doubt the results elsewhere would have been noticed. But with Rotherham and Barnsley both losing, the relegation battle remains wide open, with any two from six still sweating nervously.

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