League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
What should happen to the EFL Trophy next season?
By: Paul Holmes
AFTER almost 3 months, written off TV deals, new TV deals, numerous transfer rumours, worries if clubs will survive, pay disputes and new faces - the season is finally upon us once again.
For The Mariners they open their campaign against one of last season's top teams, Norwich City. Travelling to Carrow Road has more often than not been unfruitful for the boys in Black and White but following new signings in key areas optimism is high around Blundell Park.
With the exception of the last week or so, this pre-season has to one of the worst ever. Following the sheer joy following the Burnley win in April it has been all downhill. With the realisation that the ITV money won't emerge after all, Boulding, Butterfield, Chapman, Burnett and Allen all leaving, for nothing, was a bitter pill to swallow. When Coyne and Jevons looked to be heading out of BP most could no longer take it. However the situation has improved with the signings of Steve Chettle and Darren Barnard plus the re-signing of Simon Ford and Terry Cooke. The squad is as small as ever and youngsters like Darren Mansaram, Chris Bolder and Ian Ward are likely to have big roles to play over the next 46 or so games.
Despite remaining unfancied for most of the season, The Canaries sneaked in to the play-offs at the last minute and after causing an upset by beating Wolves in the semis took Birmingham City to penalties at Cardiff where Norfolk hearts were broken. Time does heal though and the Carrow Road faithful could well see another season challenging for honours and promotion. The only arrival at Carrow Road has been defender Paul Heckingbottom from Darlington on a Bosmanm with the only departure been that of Danny Bloomfield, who never made an appearance for The Canaries, to Bournemouth.
Missing the game for certain will be No 2 keeper Stevie Croudson who is out till November. 18-year-old Bradley Hughes will take his place on the bench but the former Watford YT is also struggling with an injury and 16-year-old Paul Fraser has been given a squad number as a pre-caution. The only other play certain to miss out is forward Chris Thompson who has an ankle injury.
The main absentee for Norwich will be captain Malky Mackay. Former Crewe man Mark Rivers has been in stunning form over pre-season and after a disappointing first season looks keen to impress.
After signing on a short term deal from Man City on deadline day Terry Cooke made himself a fans' favourite with a debut goal (against Norwich) and with his attacking play and delightful crosses. Was the star performer in pre-season and will look to continue that form against Norwich and is more than likely to give Adam Drury a grilling at left back.
Chants of 'Judas, Judas' and other less flattering chants will ring around Carrow Road every time the Dane touches the ball. Despite the reaction of the fans from his former club one cannot deny his class. With pure pace and strength Nielsen is very much a threat and against a defence that doesn't possess a lot of pace Nielsen could cause havoc.
Last time out
06-04-2002 Norwich 1 Grimsby 1
The 44th game of the season, both teams needing a win for different reasons. It took just 4 minutes for Norwich to take the lead through Malky Mackay. From there on it was all Grimsby but it took another 80 minutes for a goal from Terry Cooke after a flick on from the returning Steve Livingstone. In the end both teams achieved their goals of reaching the play-offs and survival respectively.
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