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Grimsby 1-4 Palace
By: Richard Lord
GRIMSBY Town's survival hopes took a damaging blow this afternoon as they went down 4-1 at home to Crystal Palace. It was damage limitation after just 35 minutes but the Mariners continued to plug away after vague hope was restored with an early second half goal.
Several key players were missing for this must-win game due to a sickness virus. Richard Hughes and Shaun Allaway failed to make the squad meaning there was no goalkeeper on the bench.
Tony Gallimore and Michael Keane were in the side despite suffering from sickness and Simon Ford was playing through the pain of an Achilles injury while Georges Santos as expected missed out due to a groin injury.
The game began promisingly with both sides committing men forward with every attack and indeed Town could have taken the lead in the first ten minutes but Boulding's cross was touched out for a corner.
Palace's tricky winger Routledge opened the scoring on 18 minutes when a mistake from Gallimore handed the midfielder the chance to slot past Coyne in goal.
Things never got any better and 15 minutes later Palace doubled their lead. On loan striker Noel Whelan got his second goal of his Selhurst Park spell when a number of Town defenders failed to get a foot in.
Straight from the kick-off the visitors made it 3-0 after a powerful run from Adebola. The big marksman skipped several challenges before Gallimore's wayward clearance gave Wayne Gray the chance to drill past Coyne.
The crowd then broke out in a chorus of "what a load of rubbish" but with credit to the players they continued to look for a way back into the game.
The Mariners made a promising start to the second half when Chettle headed his first Grimsby goal on 48 minutes. Despite the best efforts of Kolinko in the Palace goal, the ball just squirmed a foot over the line.
Boulding was unlucky not to have won a penalty when Powell clearly barged him into the Pontoon but the referee deemed it a legal move pointing to his shoulder as the players ran back.
Mansaram should have grabbed a second goal but his shot from eight yards was straight at Kolinko when a foot either side of him would have found the back of the net.
Wes Parker, who replaced Gallimore at half time, then produced a huge throw-in which Keane flashed at from ten yards and the ball sailed over the bar and into the roof of the Pontoon stand.
Boulding then chased down a lost cause to cut back in from the bye-line but was clipped by Powell as he moved in on the near post. Again the referee ignored Boulding's protests.
For all their possession Grimsby couldn't find a way through and Boulding's glaring miss after 75 minutes perhaps indicated that the chance of grabbing a point had well and truly gone.
Palace made it 4-1 with one minute of normal time remaining when former Town midfielder Danny Butterfield pulled a cross back for Freedman who rifled his shot into the roof of the net.
Sheffield Wednesday's impressive victory at Portsmouth means the Mariners sink to the bottom of the table. With Walsall's win at Gillingham it again means it will be any three from four teams for the drop.
Grimsby must now win at all costs next Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday and hope that Stoke and Brighton fail to gain a further advantage.
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