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Keeping up with the Joneses
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY came from behind to beat local rivals Lincoln City 2-1 and book their place in the play-off finals in Cardiff on 28th May. Ben Futcher and Gary Jones were on target for Grimsby, although the celebrations were marred somewhat by an injury time red card for leading scorer Gary Jones.
Russell Slade restored Player of the Season Rob Jones to the starting line-up after his paternity leave in the away leg, and the choice was immediately vindicated as the big Town defender was imperious in the early exchanges with Lincoln.
Town nearly took the lead when Woodhouse shot across the goal in what turned into a cross into the path of Gary Jones. Town's leading marksmen decided to throw himself at the ball and narrowly missed heading it goalwards. In retrospect the better option looked to use his feet.
Town were playing the better football and looked relatively comfortable, although Lincoln inevitably were always dangerous from set pieces and their long balls into the box.
Rob Jones was forced to go off with a head injury which needed extensive treatment to stop it bleeding. Whilst he was off the pitch Lincoln were given a dangerous free kick, and the Town bench gambled on not making a substitution. It was a fatal mistake for the ball was launched into the penalty area and headed home in a squatting position by the unmarked Robinson.
Russell Slade then immediately brought on Ben Futcher, but it was too late. For the fourth match running Town had lost a defender in the first half.
The goal gave Lincoln and their fans a massive fillip and it was the Imps who went on to dominate the last twenty minutes of the first half. Nat Brown had a great chance to make it two when a Mildenhall punch came out to him. With the Town goal undefended Brown had time to measure his shot and struck the scoreboard high above the goal, which made the number of minutes left illegible for the rest of the game.
Lincoln ended the half on a high, with a Simon Yeo drive going narrowly wide.
The confidence in the home fans had sapped away and I suspect many feared the worst at half time. The next goal was going to be critical.
In the first 15 minutes of the second half Town huffed and puffed but didn't look like scoring until the hour mark. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The Mariners won a corner on 59 minutes and Russell Slade brought on Michael Reddy for Gary Cohen. It was to pay immediate dividends, although Reddy had no part in the ensuing goal. Town played a rare short corner routine, which was crossed to Ben Futcher at the far post, whose header from a narrow angle looped past the 'keeper into the opposite side of the net. The goal was not dissimilar to Gary Jones' goal against Northampton although there was some suggestion that Futcher's goal received a deflection on its way.
Town's goal came at a critical period when they had not looked scoring and once again Grimsby's confidence returned.
But first they had to endure a deluge of Lincoln free kicks from dangerous positions, most of which came to nothing.
Town wrapped the match up with yet another set piece goal. This time Gary Jones flicked on a perfectly flighted Woodhouse ball, which ended up going in the roof of the net.
It was the killer blow and there was no way back for Lincoln.
Deep into injury time Gary Jones went up for an innocuous ball and received a red card for use of the elbow. It looked a harsh decision, which means Town's match winner will miss the final at Cardiff.
Lincoln are a difficult side to play against and were tough opponents. But over the two games there is no doubt that the Mariners displayed a superior repertoire to our neighbours and were worthy winners.
Anyone who has not attended any of the last few Grimsby games has missed some tremendous, passionate thrilling encounters. This remarkable season has one final chapter left at Cardiff which cannot be missed!
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