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The Future's Brighter
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY reached the fabled fifty point margin which guarantees their survival in the Football League next season with a well-earned win over high-flying Swindon at Blundell Park. After a first half with few chances, Town turned up the heat after the break and Toner finally broke the deadlock.
Following a period of applause for Bernard Morley and Nikki Roberts, Alan Buckley once again started with the 4-5-1 formation he currently seems to favour to begin games. There were no changes in personnel from the team which won at Hereford.
Swindon were the dominant team in the very early part of the game, without particularly threatening Town's goal. Early Swindon pressure led to Justin Whittle completely missing a clearance and the ball whizzed across the face of the Pontoon goal unchallenged.
At the other end a Town corner bounced off the cross bar to Bolland who was well placed in front of goal, but while shaping up to shoot, the path to goal was blocked, and the shooting angle disappeared.
Town were paying some neat approach play but their moves typically broke down in the final third. Danny North up front did not get involved much in the early part of the game. Swindon looked very dangerous on the break, and Town's defence had to be at their best to restrict the Robins to a few half chances.
Alan Buckley obviously felt Town were not creating enough chances and switched to 4-4-2 with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, big striker Gary Jones replacing midfielder Danny Boshell.
There was no immediate impact of the new formation in the remainder of the first half.
After the break Buckley had decided another change was needed and Peter Till came on for Bore at the start of the second half in a like-for-like swap on the wide right.
Danny North had the chance to volley Town into the lead with the Swindon 'keeper caught out of position, but his ambitious shot never threatened the goal. Gary Jones then had a free header over from an excellent Newey cross. Town at this stage had most of the possession, and were getting gradually closer to a goal.
Swindon though were not out of the game, and they went close with a header from a long throw which went just wide of the goal at the Osmond End.
The Mighty Mariner entertained the crowd with dives in front of the Pontoon to emulate one of Swindon's players who had displeased the locals, and won a impromptu round of applause from the home fans.
North then was presented with a great ball to his feet in front of goal but could only shoot straight at the 'keeper.
Then came the goal. John McDermott was fouled near the touchline, with the linesman flagging for a free kick. Macca, however, managed to beat his man anyway and the referee waved play on. The Swindon defence delayed slightly, allowing Macca to cross the ball to an unmarked Toner who blasted the ball past the 'keeper from close range in front of the Pontoon.
With the deadlock finally broken, the game opened up a little more and Town had a couple of chances to extend their lead through North and Bolland. Phil Barnes at the other end, though, made a smart save low to his left from a Peacock shot.
Swindon were reduced to 10 men when Timlin, who had already been booked, hacked down Peter Till with 8 minutes remaining.
Town survived the closing minutes which included a few Swindon corners to record a well deserved win. They had defended excellently to reduce Swindon's dangerous attack to just one or two clear-cut chances, with Barnes saving the best of them near the end. The midfield played well, and the front players were a lot more effective in the second half, through a combination of 4-4-2, Peter Till and Alan Buckley's new instructions. The team now have a confidence and swagger about them which was entirely absent just a few weeks ago, until they embarked upon this remarkable run.
With relegation now avoided, the Mariners can now focus on picking as many points as they can from the remaining games, although their chances of making the play-offs would still appear slim realistically. However, with another home game next week against Peterborough, and three more points up for grabs, who is to say what will happen next?
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