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Grimsby 1-1 Stockport
By: Richard Lord
DARREN Mansaram, on as a 65th minute substitute, headed the equaliser in Grimsby's 1-1 draw with Stockport County at Blundell Park this afternoon.
Iffy Onuora's replacement nodded the ball past the stranded Colgan five minutes after the visitors had taken the lead.
Greg Young was given the opportunity to impress at left back, while Barnard was preparing to play for Wales in Russia.
Otherwise it was an unchanged team from last week when the Mariners won so impressively against much-fancied QPR.
Stockport, now managed by the former Northern Ireland Nil manager Sammy McIlroy, to their credit, made the afternoon very difficult for the Mariners.
Good football was at a premium, as both sides failed to get the ball down and play.
Town experienced a scare midway through the half when a corner was nodded to the far post and Crane swung a boot at the ball, which cannoned off the angle of bar and post.
Stockport, to their credit, looked a much more resolute side from the one that had lost at Stevenage last weekend.
However, the home side should have taken the lead before the break but both Anderson and Boulding were guilty of missing good chances.
The second half was a more open affair, and County took the lead on 67 minutes when the ball was headed back across goal for Clare to poke home.
Mansaram and Cas minutes before the incident had replaced Onuora and Campbell, but the substitutions proved to be an inspired decision by Groves.
With 'Flash' up front, the ball tended to stick with him and this created a number of opportunities for the Mariners to get back in the game.
And indeed it was Mansaram himself who scored the equaliser following an Edwards' overhead kick, which only the striker anticipated.
County remonstrated with the linesman but the goal stood and the Mariners really should have wrapped the game up after that.
Anderson hit the post following some 'dodgy' keeping, and then minutes later Colgan was at it again, fumbling a shot at his near post.
Mansaram turned the game with his hold-up play and neat interlinks with Cas and Crowe through the centre.
Crowe had a shot charged down, Mansaram created an opportunity four yards out but wide of the far post, only for his cross-cum-shot to be sliced clear.
In the final three minutes of injury time, Jevons replaced Anderson and Crane was booked for dissent after he felt he was fouled.
In the end it was only a point, but it could, and perhaps should, have been three.
County defended deep and put all eleven men behind the ball after they took the lead, but on this evidence, they look good to beat the drop.
The draw doesn't help Town as far as the league table is concerned, with the added distraction of the FA Cup to come.
In fact, the inclusion of Pouton in the starting eleven came as a welcome surprise for the Mariners fans, and it saw Hamilton drop to the bench, along with Iain Anderson, who made way for Phil Jevons.
Boulding returned to the side to partner Onoura up front, with an unorthodox midfield of Campbell, Crowe, Pouton and Jevons.
The home side had the better of the opening exchanges but they weren't able to work Davison in the Grimsby goal.
But the game came to life after 25 minutes when Pouton was victim to a Brian Stock challenge that saw the Bournemouth man receive his marching orders.
In the melee that followed, Crowe also saw red for what has been reported as stamping, leaving both sides to play out the rest of the match with ten men.
The rest of the half was reduced to a stop-start affair as the whistle-happy and card-happy referee, Mr Kettle, took centre stage.
The second half was a much more open-ended game, and Town had their chances in the half to take the lead.
Boulding appeared to shrug off the attentions of his marker and break through on goal, only for the referee to give a free kick the other way.
Davison pulled off a great save but the referee had already spotted the offside flag.
The Mariners defended very deep at times, and were cautious on the break after conceding two goals in those circumstances last week at Peterborough.
Pouton lasted 70 minutes before Des Hamilton replaced him, and Darren Mansaram came on to replace Iffy Onuora nearer the end of the game.
But Town's last chance came deep into injury time when their third and final substitute Iain Anderson, on for Phil Jevons, headed wide from a Barnard delivery.
Immediately at the other end, Groves had all his ten men behind the ball to defend a Bournemouth corner, which they did successfully to record a useful away draw.
The management team will be keen to view video evidence of the main talking point, to see whether Jason Crowe was guilty of stamping on an opponent.
However, with bad luck following Grimsby around this season like the proverbial bad penny, Crowe was perhaps only guilty of trying to calm things down.
The Mariners defended doggedly, with Edwards as impeccable as ever, Crane a tower of strength and McDermott showing some good form.
A point wasn't enough to shift Town up anywhere in the league table, but it was a good response under the circumstances from the 1-0 home defeat to Tranmere and the 3-2 defeat at Peterborough.
Town must now use these next two home games over the Christmas period against Wrexham and Oldham to collect enough points and start climbing the table.
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