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Grimsby 0-1 Portsmouth

By: Richard Lord
Date: 26/08/2002

AN 85th minute winner from Portsmouth substitute Marc Burchill gave the visitors all three points at Blundell Park this afternoon. The game looked destined for another goal-less draw until Burchill struck the winner.

Player/Manager Paul Groves re-instated himself into a central midfield position alongside Campbell and Coldicott. Barnard and Cooke were the wingers in a five-man midfield.

Ford accompanied Steve Chettle in the centre of defence with McDermott and Gallimore as full-backs in a more accustomed four at the back. Coyne continued in goal with loan striker Kabba playing as a solitary striker.

The first half was a dull affair but Pompey did threaten on a couple of occasions. Danny Coyne had to be alert and he made several good blocks to deny Burton and Crowe.

At the other end Stuart Campbell tested Hislop from long range, but there was no way past a three-man central defence of De Zeeuw, Foxe and Nesta.

The second half proved more eventful and it was the Mariners who started brightly. Merson ran the show in midfield but was closely watched by both Groves and Coldicott.

Kabba was booked for diving after former Middlesborough defender Nesta appeared to bring him down. The referee waved away the protests and booked the Palace striker.

Minutes later Kabba's pace took him into the area after a Foxe mistake, but the defender redeemed himself to make a perfect tackle.

As the game wore on, Gallimore and McDermott pressured further up the field but it was the usual old story and the ball into the box never found a Town striker.

In the build up to the winning goal, Barnard appeared to win a throw-in down the left but the referee disagreed and gave a free kick Portsmouth's way after Harper ran in front of Barnard.

Keeper Shaka Hislop proceeded to take the free kick at least 12 yards away from where the offence took place, and his long ball ran straight through to Burchill who calmly curled the ball into the bottom left corner.

Up until that point the visitors had very few efforts on goal themselves and a draw seemed inevitable.

But that goal puts Portsmouth top of the league and leaves Town searching for their first win.

In the dying moments both Groves and Harper were booked for an off-the-ball incident.

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