Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Grimsby 1 Blackburn 2
By: Gareth Edwards
THE Mariners went down 2-1 against a strong Blackburn side but showed an encouraging performance in doing so. They played neat football at times and the pace of Reddy in particular caused Blackburn real problems.
Mark Hughes' Blackburn side included Welsh international Robbie Savage, Scottish internationals Dominic Matteo and Paul Dickov and other Premiership veterans Michael Gray and Vratislav Gresko, with Gary Flitcroft and Matt Jansen on the bench. Town line up as they had done against Leeds, except John McDermott returned from injury to replace Cohen at wing back and ex-Mariner Gary Croft, now on trial at BP, replaced the injured Tom Newey.
Town kicked off towards the Pontoon and the early play suggested this was to be a scrappy affair. Blackburn had the first real chance, from a Savage free-kick but Mildenhall reacted smartly to tip it round his right hand post. Town then began to settle, with Michael Reddy almost forging himself an opportunity before Blackburn keeper Drench rushed from the goal and smothered the ball at Reddy's feet. At the other end Dickov broke free on the left only to scuff his shot straight at Mildenhall.
Town then built a brief spell of pressure in Blackburn's half , which resulted in several corners and set pieces. Town looked to use the height of Crane and Jones to good effect and it was this combination, which led to the Mariners opening the scoring. McDermott's corner was flicked on by Crane, to Croft at the edge of the box. He curled a perfect ball across goal and Jones was quickest to react, thrusting out his right boot to send the ball into the roof of the net. Town pushed on, with the crowd behind them and another corner saw Crane go close, heading just over. Bolland, Kamudimba and Parkinson worked extremely hard in the midfield engine room as Blackburn began to come back into the game. However, when they did grab an equaliser, it was very much against the run of play and through what looked to be Rovers most likely route of scoring: a set piece, Matteo heading in from a Savage free-kick. Town struggled against Blackburn's set pieces throughout and this is surely something Russell Slade will want to work on before next Saturday's opener.
Reddy won town another corner in response but this was defended much better than the previous efforts by the Blackburn defence. Town then had to substitute Kamudimba on 28 mins. after he picked up a knock from one of several meaty challenges he was on the receiving end of. Terry Barwick replaced him but failed to replace the Africans dynamism in midfield. Reddy was now Town's main hope of regaining the lead and was a thorn in Blackburn's side all night, in what was certainly a man of the match performance . Town still threatened with various chances before half time, McDermott firing a tame shot wide and Gritton almost latching on to a Reddy through ball. However, neither side could gain ascendancy and the two went in 1-1 at half time.
Blackburn came out for the second half with various substitutes on and it was one of the replacements who almost immediately fired Blackburn into the lead. Matt Jansen broke the offside trap after Paul Dickov's cheeky back heel managed to unlock the Town defence for the first time, and placed the ball past Mildenhall.
Town were on the back foot and Paul Gallagher, another sub, beat Mildenhall with a volley only to see it drift past the post. Jones snuffed out a promising break by Dickov and was inches away from getting a second at the other end, nearly latching onto Bolland's teasing cross. Crane also saw action at both ends, by clearing a dangerous Rovers corner and then wasting a free kick opportunity of his own, by shooting wide from a good position.
The final half an hour was almost a repeat of the Lincoln game in which Slade brought on various trialists, backup players and youngsters in order to help him pick his best XI against Oxford. The whole team was replaced in one swoop, except Barwick who was subbed late on in the game and Blackburn also made a host of changes . The pick of Town's substitutes was Gary Cohen, who came closest to firing a dramatic late equaliser and also troubled the Blackburn defence with pace. Heggarty, Downey and Palmer also looked solid but the second string could not, in the end, force a draw.
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