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Barnet 0 Grimsby 1
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY maintained their 100% record away from home this season with a well-earned win at Barnet. A simple goal just after the break from substitute Calvin Andrew's first touch of the game was marred only by a late sending off for midfielder Paul Bolland due to abusive language.
Russell Slade decided to persevere with the 4-4-2 formation which was so successful in midweek against Derby County. The injured Gary Cohen was replaced on the left side of midfield by Tom Newey, who himself was returning from a one match suspension.
A dull first half saw very few chances for either side, with both defences able to cope with what was thrown at them and neither team having more than few half chances. An Andy Parkinson header which sailed over the bar was Grimsby's best chance of the first period.
The most significant incident of the first half was Tom Newey's unnecessary booking for a bad tackle made in Town's half of the pitch. Newey has now picked up at least one yellow card in each of his four starts for the Mariners, as well as a red card against Darlington last weekend.
Newey's booking, the need to keep players fresh for Monday's game, and Town's inability to carve out an opening led to Russell Slade making a brave double substitution at the start of the second half. Michael Reddy and Tom Newey were replaced by Martin Gritton and Calvin Andrew respectively.
It was a move which paid immediate dividends. Straight from the kick-off a long ball forward to Calvin Andrew eluded the Barnet 'keeper and the on-loan Hatter was able to head it into an empty net with his first touch of the game.
Town then faced 45 minutes of defending a 1-0 lead, something they managed to do successfully in midweek against the supposedly superior Derby attack.
Once again Barnet had a lot of possession, but in the main failed to create any clear scoring opportunities - in part due to Grimsby's resolute defending. The Bees' main threat was from corners, but their best chances failed to produce a save out of Steve Mildenhall, instead going over the Town 'keeper's crossbar.
Mildenhall himself commanded his area superbly and, when called upon, was quick to deal with any crosses into the box. His best save was a shot from a narrow angle through a pack of bodies.
Town themselves had a few chances to double their lead, with Kamudimba's fierce drive from outside the box, which went just wide, being their best opportunity.
Throughout the match the referee made a number of bizarre decisions, against both sides to be fair, and looked itching to get himself noticed at every opportunity.
With only a couple of minutes to go the ball went out for a throw-in and Bolland picked it up as though to take it, even though it was Barnet's throw, a common piece of gamesmanship to waste a few seconds. The Barnet player grabbed the ball over-aggressively from Bolland, at which point the referee brandished a yellow card. Most Town fans seemed to think the Barnet player had been booked, but to our horror the ref was brandishing it in Bolland's direction, presumably for time wasting. Bolland must then have said something to the referee, and then was shown a second yellow card for dissent.
To put Town's win into perspective it is over six months since Barnet lost at home, and Grimsby restricted the embryonic league leaders to only a handful of chances. Rob Jones was once again outstanding at the heart of Town's defence, Mildenhall commanded his box in a way that no Town 'keeper has done for a few seasons, and Paul Bolland and Jean-Paul Kamudimba both looked good in central midfield. Grimsby also have a 100% record with the 4-4-2 system which so many fans have been crying out for Town to return to.
A full report will appear tomorrow.
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