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Valiant Town Sunk by Shearer
By: Gareth Edwards
A 78th minute strike from veteran forward Alan Shearer broke Town hearts and meant Grimsbyâ€™s cup run came to an end at Blundell Park last night.
Newcastle turned in a professional performance but certainly didn't overpower Town and Russell Sladeâ€™s men can be very proud of the way they stood up to the Premiership side.
Town recalled returning loanee Calvin Andrew and Gary Cohen on the wings, replacing the still injury affected Andy Parkinson and the departed Simon Francis. Other than this, Town retained the same line-up who surrendered so weakly against Leyton Orient the previous weekend. Newcastle picked a reasonably strong team and Alan Shearer was a late call up after Shoala Ameobi pulled out through injury.
Town set their stall out from the off and made it difficult for Newcastle to break them down, whilst not risking too many men forward. This restricted the number of chances for the Magpies but had the same effect at the other end, with the only possible route to a Town goal looking like a set piece. The Geordiesâ€™ first real chance fell to Shearer, who from just yards out failed to beat Mildenhall who made a brave stop. He then followed this up minutes later, holding onto a Michael Chopra tester. Rob Jones was forced to make a vital headed clearance, the first of many to come from the giant defender.
Grimsby did have a few brief forays forward and constantly looked to use Reddyâ€™s pace through the middle, Jean Paul Kalala almost proving a successful exponent of this, but his through ball was just to strong for the Irishman to run onto. Charles Nâ€˜Zogbia resumed normality at the other end by breaking free of McDermott on the right but he couldn't convert, despite his effort beating Mildenhall at the near post, with the woodwork saving Town on this occasion.
Town then almost got their first real break from a set piece, but Shay Given was able to collect. The Irish goalkeeper was unable to do the same from the next free-kick however. Gary Jones had Townâ€™s best chance of the half with a free header, on the edge of the six-yard box, but unfortunately it looped harmlessly over.
A row then erupted between the captains of the two sides, after an innocuous challenge by Justin Whittle left Shearer with a cut lip, later requiring three stitches to mend. This incensed Shearer, who along with Scott Parker, confronted referee Mark Halsey and berated the official for a good five minutes following the incident, being lucky not to be booked for his troubles.
This seemed to spur Town and their crowd on somewhat and they began to match Newcastleâ€™s physicality for the remaining minutes of the half, even enjoying a brief spell of pressure in the last five minutes. The Town players received a generous ovation at half-time and deservedly so.
Half time: Town 0 Newcastle 0
The report continues in the Second Half.
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