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Is the squad strong enough to challenge for promotion?

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Grimsby 1-0 Watford

By: Richard Lord
Date: 15/03/2003

A 64th minute strike from Paul Groves secured a vital three points for Grimsby Town against Watford this afternoon at Blundell Park.

The Town line-up remained unchanged from the 2-2 draw at Notts Forest on Monday night, with Darren Mansaram continuing his role as the lone striker with Oster and Campbell pushing forward from midfield.

It was the FA Cup semi finalists that began the game well, creating two good opportunities before the Mariners got going. Mahon and Helguson both took too much time at the back post from two excellent right-wing crosses.

Mansaram had an effort saved after he turned and shot from the edge of the area before Pouton received a knock to his ankle on the half hour. Although the midfielder returned to action after some treatment, he soon left to be replaced by Barnard.

The game had become a midfield battle with neither side able to string passes together. Town worked the ball well down the wings but the final ball into the area was poor.

As half time approached Campbell won a free kick on the edge of the area, which Barnard curled just high and wide of the far post with Chamberlain just watching.

With the sides locked 0-0 at half time, it was perhaps surprising that there were no changes made during the interval.

The Mariners won a succession of corners to begin the half but Watford's defence coped well without too much pressure from the Town's big guns.

On the hour Watford's Paul Robinson clearly caught John Oster after the defender's initial mistake let the Town winger escape down the left. Robinson escaped with just a yellow card.

Minutes later Town took a deserved lead. A quickly taken free kick found Oster free on the right and he skipped past one challenge before cutting the ball back for Groves, who cheekily clipped the ball into the far corner of the net.

Whether he meant it or not, his deft touch had put the Mariners one up and firmly in control.

Watford immediately made a double-substitution and sent on their big players to push forward at every opportunity. Coyne had to make one good save after Sean Dyche's header looked to be creeping past the near post.

Barnard was then unlucky when he saw his right-footed first-time volley smack the face of the post and rebound away to safety.

Campbell then took advantage of a mix-up between Chamberlain and one of his defenders six yards out but his volley was deflected off the line to safety.

Mansaram had run himself into the ground but he was the next to break away after an intelligent pass from Oster. He had to wait for assistance before the move petered out.

Oster then broke through down the middle and got a shot away only for it to be well saved by Chamberlain.

In one last breakaway Mansaram looked to be shaping to shoot but he played a square ball to Barnard who collided with the keeper as the Watford defence stood looking at each other.

Despite Town's tendencies to be rather generous in the last ten minutes of games, the defence stood firm and the trio of Barnard, Mansaram and Oster made sure Watford saw very little of the ball.

The introduction of Barnard certainly had made a difference and the midfield unit was much more effective with a balanced five across the middle of the park. Mansaram simply ran himself into the ground.


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