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Grimsby 2 Bury 1
By: Rob Sedgwick
TOWN hung on to record a priceless 2-1 victory over Bury which, with three of their promotion rivals losing, saw the Mariners rise to second spot. Town had at one point looked to be coasting after Gary Jones put them 2-0 up, but Bury fought back and could easily have grabbed a point.
Michael Reddy was a surprise starter after being ruled out for 10 days last Saturday, although how fit the Irishman was remains open to debate. Otherwise the team and line-up was as expected.
Town started brightly with Woodhouse and Bolland dominant in central midfield, and looked the better side in the opening period. It was no surprise when Gary Jones put Town in front with a well-worked goal after just 12 minutes. Great play by Gary Cohen led to a Woodhouse cross which landed at the feet of Jones. The former Tranmere striker struck the ball perfectly, lashing it past Schmeichel, to round off a flowing piece of football.
Grimsby fans were in seventh heaven within five minutes as Jones scored his second, once again in front of the Pontoon, where he has netted four goals in the last two games. A Woodhouse corner was diverted to Jones in the six yard box with his back to goal. The big striker reacted surprisingly quickly with a bicycle kick back into the net, another superb finish.
Town almost made it three when a Futcher header from a corner was splendidly diverted away from goal by Schmeichel, a superb reaction save which his father would have been proud of. Bury were frequently giving the ball away, with Woodhouse, Cohen and Bolland in particular winning a lot of possession for Grimsby in midfield.
Despite their wayward defending Bury looked a decent side going forward, and had their chances in an entertaining first 45 minutes. The warning signs were there when Futcher deflected a goalwards shot wide of the target, more by luck than judgement it appeared.
Both sides looked dangerous when they had the ball, and Town survived several scary moments to go in at half time leading 2-0, a scoreline that probably slightly flattered them.
Town's mission after the break appeared to be similar to that of last week: to defend their lead at all costs and hope to grind out a result. Andy Parkinson came on in place of Toner, and shortly afterwards Bury's persistence resulted in a deserved goal for the Shakers. It came in the form of a quite brilliant chip by former Town loanee John Daly.
Bury's goal resulted in a long spell of pressure with Town hanging on by the slenderest of margins. Town's chances were limited to a Reddy shot which hit the side netting, and a Cohen "goal" disallowed for offside.
The Shakers had an excellent opportunity to draw level when Youngs had a free header from close range in front of goal but he could only put it wide.
The near miss summoned the crowd into action and the Pontoon made themselves heard to give the players the impetus they needed to negotiate their way through to the delicious sound of the final whistle.
Town had done just enough to win. Whittle had a solid but unspectacular game at the back, all the midfield played well (with Woodhouse just shading Bolland as Man of the Match), and Gary Jones supplied the quality finishes we needed where it counts.
Rob Jones must be relieved that both the matches he was suspended for after the altercation with referee at Rushden have resulted in victories. Even more importantly Blundell Park has just seen a fourth consecutive win, something it has not witnessed for many years, and Town have another chance to go top on Tuesday when they head for the third time to Rochdale who - as the chant goes - we seem to be playing every week.
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