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Grimsby Town 1 Lincoln City 0
By: Paul Holmes
WITH injuries to several first team players, Paul Groves fielded the strongest team he could in the circumstances for this afternoon's friendly against Lincoln City.
The only professional keeper at the club Andy Pettinger lined up in front of a mix of youth and experience throughout the team. Tony Crane and Greg Young partnered each other in the centre of defence, Darren Barnard and Marcel Cas played as (very) attacking fullbacks. Iain Anderson and Derby trialist Matt O'Halloran worked the flanks with the all action Alan Pouton and Des Hamilton in midfield. Graham Hockless was given the free role behind the lone striker of Jonny Rowan. Gio Carchedi was the only other striker available to Groves, giving Rowan a chance to stake a claim.
Lincoln included former Mariner Matthew Bloomer in the line up. 'Blooms', who was very much a defender during his time at Blundell Park, lined up in attacking midfield role. With the first team obviously dirty, Town lined up in the grey away number. Lincoln took the game so seriously that they played in training tops, they did have teeny numbers on the front though.
The Imps lived up to their reputation of a physical team from the off and had little trouble in out muscling the strike force of Rowan and Hockless. The rest of the pitch was not so easy for Keith Alexander's men with Hamilton and Pouton looking strong in midfield and Tony Crane lifting his head to meet each attack (waahhy, four paragraphs in....COME ON!).
Despite Pouton and Hamilton looking physical, they seemed to lack communication. With both players often chasing the same ball only to lose out. The former Cardiff man was also lacking the good first touch need against Lincoln's snapping midfield.
The partnership however never got chance to improve as Pouton went down injured after 25 minutes with player-boss Paul Groves replacing him.
Cas' attacking instincts did get the better of him on occasions with Town left short down the right hand side. Lincoln soon cottoned on with a series of attacks coming from the said flank.
Andy Pettinger in goal used his height to good effect against a very robust Lincoln attack. The former Everton youngster was only beaten after a blatant foul which the referee quickly blew for.
Town's best move of the half came just before the break. The ever industrious Hockless created the opening for Rowan to race away down the right side. Rowan's cross-field ball was met by the onrushing Marcel Cas who could only fire wide.
Whilst Town went down the tunnel at half-time, Keith Alexander took his players over to the shadowed Smiths side of the ground to give his team talk, didn't even let them get a tan...... so selfish!
Lincoln decided on a change of shirt for the second half, on went the proper red and white stripe shirts. Town stayed in their now, probably, smelly and sweaty grey tops.
The half-time Ice-cream clearly worked a treat for Town who now attacked with full confidence. Cas' link play with Anderson was causing havoc for the Lincoln defence, who must have wished they had a Magnum (not the TV programme starring Tom Selleck) during the break.
Cas began to show his pace to great effect during his regular foray's forward, that coupled with his suprising strength could well be a great asset to Town this season.
It took only seven minutes before Town took the lead, again it was Anderson and Cas who created. After good build up play the Dutchman's second attempt at a cross found O'Halloran who calmly finished under pressure from close range.
The same move almost resulted in another goal moments later but this time O'Halloran headed over. As Lincoln made regular substitutions, Town looked at ease on the ball with Cas and Anderson a bona fide threat. The left side deserves a mention as well with Hockless and O'Halloran causing problems with a more patient style.
Town eventually succumbed to the substitution game and off went Cas, Hamilton, Anderson, O'Halloran in gradual phases with Carchedi, Wes Parker, Iain Ward and Chris Bolder the replacements. Cas' departure was the most worrying, with the ex Notts County man limping off following a late challenge.
As so often is the case, the changes resulted in lost momentum and Lincoln slowly gained back possession. In fact had it not being for last ditch tackles by both Young and Crane, the Imps could have snatched the equaliser. Pettinger again had to be strong on crosses as a late barrage came his way. A mix-up in defence left the goal open late on but the Lincoln striker lost his balance at the crucial moment from an incredibly tight angle.
Carchedi did offer Rowan more options up front but the young duo lacked the experience at times to make it count.
Overall not a particularly entertaining game and neither a convincing win. But the performances of Cas, Anderson and O'Halloran bode well for the future, assuming the latter becomes a permanent member of the squad that is.
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