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Bristol R 1 Grimsby 2
By: Rob Sedgwick
THE Mariners came from behind to record a deserved win away at Bristol Rovers last night. Martin Gritton and Rob Jones were on target for Grimsby after dangerman Agogo put the Pirates' noses in front. A Rovers' win would however have hugely flattered the Avon side who were outplayed on the night.
Town lined up as in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Oxford, with Andy Parkinson once again occupying the "hole" behind the front two of Reddy and Gritton.
Town started very brightly and could have gone 3-0 up inside the first fifteen minutes. Reddy's strength and pace in particular terrorised the Rovers' rearguard, and the former Sunderland striker was at centre of the majority of Town's first half chances.
With only five minutes on the clock Reddy managed to create enough space for a shot/cross from a narrow angle which raced along the goal line.
Five minutes later Town had their best chance of the first half. Reddy broke away from his defender and his shot was well-saved by Shearer. The ball bounced out to Parkinson in front of goal. With the 'keeper out of position and only a couple of defenders on the line, Parky had time to pick his spot, which unfortunately was about two feet over the cross bar. Parky's finishing, as on so many occasions, once again let him down.
Within minutes, though, Parky managed to get a shot on target, but in-form Shearer once again was equal to it, tipping the ball wide. From the resulting corner the Rovers 'keeper made a top class save to deny a Rob Jones header that had looked destined to be a goal.
Rovers had their chances, too in a frenetic first 45 minutes. They had a "goal" disallowed for offside and just before half time an Agogo header was just wide of Mildenhall's post.
After the break Town continued to have a lot of possession, with most of the play being (for us) down the far end of the ground. On one occasion they had four successive corners but were unable to get the ball in the net.
Rovers went ahead somewhat against the run of play and there was a touch of fortune about the opening goal. Town's backline was caught napping, leading to a chance for Williams whose shot was well parried by Mildenhall in Town's goal. Unfortunately for Grimsby the ball looped up directly to Agogo who nodded the Gas Heads in front before Mildenhall could react.
How many times over the years have we seen Town go on to lose 2-0 or 3-0 in such situations? They were unlucky to be behind, but now looked to have a mountain to climb to get anything from the game. Russell Slade brought on the pacy Gary Cohen in place of Parkinson, with Cohen moving to a wide right position.
Town equalised just as Grimsby were preparing to bring on two substitutes. A long free kick was deflected off Cohen, and fell to Martin Gritton, who rifled the ball into the net. It was no more than Grimsby deserved, and the two Town subs promptly sat down again.
Rovers pressed forward to try and regain the lead, but it was the Mariners who finally made one of their corners count. A perfect ball into the box was met by Rob Jones' head high in the box and slipped past the hapless Shearer.
And soon that was it - we had done it. A delirious away end, playing staff and management team congratulated one another on a fine three points which few in all honesty had expected.
Town's team spirit on the night was fantastic. Even when they went a goal down, they never gave up and kept pressing for the equaliser that their overall play merited. Town's man of the match in the first half has to be Michael Reddy, who terrorised Rovers' defenders and created a number of chances.
The whole team played well, even Parkinson - playing out of position - who had two good chances to put Grimsby 1-0 up. Special mention, though, must go to the back three, all of whom were tremendous on the night, limiting Rovers three' strikers to only a handful of chances. Pick up the trio though was Tony Crane, who seemed to make a string of telling clearances at the back throughout the game.
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