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Grimsby 2 Stoke 0
By: Richard Lord
TWO goals in the first half from Michael Boulding and Chris Thompson helped Grimsby to a 2-0 win over their relegation rivals Stoke City this afternoon at Blundell Park.
It saw the return of former Mariners defender Peter Handyside but his side left Cleethorpes empty handed and were also reduced to ten men in the latter stages of the match.
Town were without the suspended Livingstone but welcomed the return to first team action of Alan Pouton. Chris Bolder stepped down to the bench and Cooke returned to the right of midfield.
Thompson partnered Boulding up front and the new strike partnership took just four minutes to get off the mark when Boulding headed the Mariners in front from a superb first time cross from Pouton.
The game followed a pattern similar to that expected for a six-pointer. Both teams looked to pile men forward at every opportunity but there was plenty of hesitation in midfield.
Town looked the brighter of the two sides in the first half although chances were limited. Five minutes before half time Thompson was injured in a clash of heads with City's Wayne Thomas, which sparked angry scenes from both benches.
Thompson received lengthy treatment to the bang on his head as Thomas was booked. Rodger and Wilkinson appeared to judge the clash as intentional and were baying for the red card to be shown.
But Thompson got his revenge literally from the free kick. A long ball down the line broke for Thompson and falling over from two challenges, he steered his shot into the corner of the net past Banks.
The second half brought about a change in mentality from the Town team. They sat back and allowed Stoke to play football but there was no end product from the visitors.
Only on fleeting occasions did Town look a threat on the break. Boulding had a shot saved almost on the line and Campbell tried a spectacular volley from the edge of the area but it went well wide.
Without Livingstone, the Mariners were working the ball forward along the ground and Cooke drifted across the pitch time and again to set Town going.
Coyne had to be alert all afternoon but only his kicking was really tested as Stoke failed to get a serious shot on target.
Soames replaced Thompson with 20 minutes to go and Rowan made a brief appearance in the last five minutes when he came on for Boulding.
Soames had the best chance of the half to seal the game for Grimsby but he was cynically pulled back by Shtanuk on the edge of the area. The Belarus international was given his marching orders.
Cooke blasted the resulting free kick over the bar but by that stage Town had the game sown up.
There were three major factors behind the end result, one being the return of Pouton and the absence of Livingstone leaving Town no other option but to play the ball forward along the ground.
The second was the crowd, who got behind the team from the start and were rewarded with the perfect start.
Thirdly, the team looked focused, aggressive and controlled. The whole team played their part and chased everything down. The work rate was second to none and that is the kind of attitude the players must retain if they are to avoid the drop.
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