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Team News: Grimsby v Stockport
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY have the chance to gain revenge over Stockport, who surprisingly managed to do the double over Russell Slade's Mariners last season.
Town ended up three points away from automatic promotion and the Cheshire club were themselves three points away from relegation to the Conference, so the two encounters proved crucial to both clubs.
Ciaran Toner and Peter Beagrie are back in training after missing last week's game at Chester through injury. Gary Harkins has also returned to first team contention after struggling with a virus in recent weeks. Loanee Martin McIntosh has returned to Huddersfield after a month on loan, although Town were keen to keep the 35-year-old for another spell but were denied by the West Yorkshire outfit. Town's only major injury concerns are long-term absentees Gary Cohen and Michael Reddy.
Graham Rodger however is likely to stick with the side which beat Chester last season, which means teenage striker Andy Taylor, who scored the first goal of his career in the 94th minute against Chester, will once again start the game on the bench. Some of the players returning from injury in all probability will feature on that bench, which is likely to be the only area of change for Town.
One Grimsby player who will be desperate to play is midfielder Danny Boshell, who made 38 appearances for Stockport last season, but was released in the summer as he did not figure in manager Jim Gannon's plans.
Goals are like buses for Stockport striker Adam Le Fondre (No, 14), who went six games without finding the net, until suddenly he scored four times in Saturday's 5-2 defeat of Wrexham. Le Fondre will be familiar to Town fans as he scored both goals against Grimsby last time the two teams met in the 2-1 defeat at Edgeley Park in January, when the Hatters came from behind to cancel out a Michael Reddy strike just after half time.
Stockport have in the main continued their poor form of last season when they narrowly escaped relegation, but are capable of better things as their result against Wrexham last week demonstrates. Other than the shock defeat of the Welsh Dragons on Saturday, the Hatters only win of the season came against Bristol Rovers at home on 9th September.
The only injury doubt Stockport have is central defender Michael Raynes. He was taken to hospital after last weekend's game with Wrexham as there were some concerns about his blood pressure levels, although he is now at home where he has been told to rest for two weeks. Raynes's absence means that either Michael Bowler or Rob Clare will come into the side at right back with Ashley Williams moving across to central defence. Bowler had been playing at right back in recent weeks although Clare put in a good performance in the Cheshire Senior Cup, so Jim Gannon has a difficult decision to make.
Left winger Adam Griffin and striker Adam Proudlock both picked up ankle injuries during the midweek Cheshire Senior Cup win over Nantwich Town, although they should both be okay to take their places on the bench. County's discipline has been fairly good this season so the Hatters have no supsension problems ahead of the game.
The match costs just £1 for children who are accompanied by a full-paying adult, which means Town will be boosted by a larger than average crowd.
With two consecutive home games coming up and Town currently in a mid-table position in League Two, this week could prove a pivotal stage of this season when it becomes clearer whether Grimsby will be challenging for a promotion place or having one eye over their shoulders at the trapdoor to the Conference.
Town: Barnes, Croft, Whittle, Fenton, Newey, Bore, Bolland, Boshell, Ravenhill, Jones, Rankin
Subs: McDermott, Chamberlain, Toner, Beagrie, Taylor
Stockport: John Ruddy (GK), Mark Robinson (LB), Gareth Owen (CB), Ashley Williams (CB), Michael Bowler (RB), Michael Malcolm (LW), Keith Briggs (CM), Jason Taylor (CM), David Poole (RW), Glenn Murray (CF), Adam Le Fondre (CF).
Subs: Tim Deacy / James Spencer (GK), Adam Griffin, Tony Dinning, Adam Proudlock, Tes Bramble.
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