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Grimsby 2-2 Brighton
By: Richard Lord
GRIMSBY signed off the season with a 2-2 home draw against Brighton to deny the Seagulls of Division One survival. As it turned out, Stoke City helped themselves by beating Reading at the Britannia Stadium so the Blundell Park result was irrelevant.
However, for much of the game Brighton worked hard for the win that they needed if they were to stand any chance of beating relegation. Grimsby, playing a more regular 4-4-2 formation proved to be a difficult hurdle.
Out went Sagare, Young, Hockless and the like, and in came Chettle, Groves, Mansaram and Thompson. McDermott also lined up in what could be his last game for the club.
The Mariners, shooting towards the Pontoon in the first half, had the first chance of the game. Mansaram worked an opening in the Brighton box but couldn't get his shot away in time to trouble Beasant in goal.
The visiting keeper was given a generous round of applause before the game by the Town fans, but he was beaten in the 23rd minute when Michael Keane struck home from the penalty spot.
The decision was rather dubious, as Thompson was quick to steal possession when Kerry Mayo had lost control and the former Liverpool youngster was upended close to the 18-yard line. Keane sent Beasant the wrong way to give Town a 1-0 lead.
Bobby Zamora and Graham Barrett were contained by Santos and Chettle although there were brief moments when Brighton looked to have a sight of goal but Coyne wasn't forced to make a save.
In first half injury time a determined run by Barrett was ended just inside the Town box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Zamora calmly slotted the ball away to Coyne's bottom left corner.
Brighton made a good start to the second half and they were in front on 47 minutes. A corner swung in from the left caused consternation in the Town penalty box and defender Danny Cullip drilled home from six yards.
That was as close as the visitors got to survival. Stoke were locked in a 0-0 draw with Reading but that soon changed when news filtered through that the Potters had forged a 1-0 lead over the play-off contenders.
Then on the hour Grimsby's other loan player Richard Hughes decided to get on the scoresheet, although in rather fortuitous circumstances. Good work by Campbell down the right created a chance for Keane at the far post and his effort deflected in off midfielder Hughes.
At this point the game descended into a bit of a lull as both teams went through the motions. Stoke's lead over Reading remained and apart from the occasional glimpse of Town's goal, Brighton never looked like retaking the lead.
Chris Thompson came the closest for either side in the last ten minutes when he turned a Campbell cross onto the face of the bar when the effort deserved to find the back of the net.
At the final whistle both sets of fans ran onto the pitch although there was no trouble.
For what was a dark day in the season for both clubs, the atmosphere was strange to say the least. Brighton had much resting on the outcome but the Mariners' fans appeared to enjoy the game in the right spirit.
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