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Town Frustrate Cobblers
By: Rob Sedgwick
ALAN Buckley's reign as Grimsby Town manager began in a promising manner with a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup tie at Northampton. A much improved display and result by a makeshift side makes sure Town's name is in the hat for tomorrow's draw.
A larger than average away contingent assembled in Northampton's sunken Sixfields stadium in an optimistic mood, inspired by the sacking of Graham Rodger and his replacement of Alan Buckley for his third spell as Grimsby boss. Gone was the dour pessimism of the last few weeks, and it its place many Town fans seemed to have a broad smile on their face and an extra spring in their step. All the talk was how much this new fervour would communicate itself to the players.
On the teamsheet were several lesser spotted Mariners, and the lack of strike power meant Stuart Watkiss had decided Town were forced to play striker Danny North on his own up front (how ironic that in Buckley's first game there would be a deviation from his beloved 4-4-2).
There was no sign of Alan Buckley before the game or throughout the whole of the first half. Everyone was itching to catch sight of our elusive saviour but it appeared that Buckley meant what he said when he stated that Watkiss would be in charge of this match.
Town had three good chances in the first few minutes of the game. Danny North was put through in a wide position, rounded the 'keeper, but decided not to shoot from a narrow angle and the ball was eventually cleared.
Then Newey hit a piledriver of a shot which was destined for the top corner until the 'keeper acrobatically tipped the ball out for a corner, from which Danny North had a free header which flew inches over the bar.
Northampton could not break down Town's defence and Town - despite playing with only one striker - still looked dangerous, with North making some good runs and generally holding the ball up well when he did receive it. A North volley from a good cross by Boshell produced a good save by Mark Bunn, diving low to his left.
Northampton, who had failed to threaten much at all in the first period, almost took the lead in first half injury time. A dangerous cross was headed clear by Newey, but it was desperately close to being an own goal.
Alan Buckley finally appeared at the start of the second half on the touchline (left) besides Stuart Watkiss, who gradually withdrew so that Buckley was closer to the action than him. Buckley's presence immediately promoted a long chorus of Alan Buckley's Black and White Army.
Northampton came out in the second half determined to break the deadlock and almost struck straight away. Town failed to clear a dangerous long throw, and the ball eventually fell to McGleish, who looked certain to score, but he blasted the ball narrowly wide.
Town continued to absorb a lot of pressure, but Northampton were continually frustrated in front of goal. Phil Barnes produced a fantastic fingertip save to deflect the ball onto the edge of the post and managed to bundle a rebound clear for good measure!
Young Andy Taylor replaced a tiring Danny North and set up Boshell for an attempted lob that would have won the tie for Town, but his strike lacked the power to beat Bunn.
Overall Town played well, especially given their makeshift side. The quality of football was better than most of this season's fare, and Grimsby did not look more than a division below their opponents, who now have to come to Blundell Park for a replay.
There's a lot of work still to do to win this tie, and likewise for Alan Buckley to get the best out of the squad he has inherited, but this was a promising beginning on both fronts.
Most importantly of all the bulk of our supporters still had a smile on their faces at the end of the match.
MOM: Could go to any of the defence or Phil Barnes in goal, but I will pick Gary Croft at right back who showed his class throughout the game.
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