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|Bolly to Return|
Grimsby v Bradford Team News
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY should be boosted by the return of midfielder Paul Bolland for the crunch match with Bradford on Saturday. Bolland has been missing from action recently with a recurrent ankle problem, but Town are hoping it has sufficiently recovered for him to play against the Bantams.
Town Chairman John Fenty has appealed to all fans to make a special effort to attend Grimsby's biggest game of the year so far, or bring a friend who does not normally come. With virtually a full away end and something of a local derby, as well as there being so much at stake, there is guaranteed to be a good atmosphere.
Town's only other doubts beside Bolland are Man City utility player Shaleum Logan, who has been nursing a knock sustained in Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Wycombe and Isaiah Rankin who has a sore groin. Both are expected to feature in the game though, although Rankin may have to settle for a place on the bench after a poor display at Wycombe.
Town's home supporters will get their first chance to see striker Martin Butler, currently on loan from Walsall. Butler made his debut at Wycombe on Saturday and looked a useful signing, although he wasn't really given the service by the rest of the Town side. Alan Buckley's biggest decision is who, if anyone, should partner Butler. Buckley may prefer the pace of Andy Taylor to the physical presence of Rankin, who was disappointing at Wycombe on Saturday.
Bradford, who were a Premiership club just seven years ago, have tumbled down the league in recent years, suffering from financial problems which have threatened their very existence. Backed by 13,000+ home fans the Bantams were expected to be involved in the promotion places. However a poor start has left them struggling with the Mariners at the bottom of League Two. City sit two places and just one point above Town and if either team loses the match they could well end up in the bottom two depending on other results.
A 0-0 draw for the Bantams at home to Darlington last week ended a run of five league defeats on the trot, and City will be hoping it marks the beginning of a turnaround in the fortune of former Scotland international Stuart McCall's men.
Stuart McCall should welcome back midfielder Paul Evans, who has missed the last two games with an ankle problem, to his squad. On-loan Barnsley defender Paul Heckingbottom is a minor doubt with a thigh strain, but Peter Thorne (ribs) is still unavailable.
City's top scorer is much-travelled Congolese striker Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu (no. 24) who has signed for six clubs in four years (plus one on loan). A international team mate of former Grimsby player JP Kalala, now at Oldham, Ndumbu-Nsungu has spent all his career at a higher level before joining City in the summer.
Other players to look out for are former Leeds defender David Wetherall, now captain of the Bantams and Jamaican international pair goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and midfielder Omar Daley (the pair have almost 100 caps between them). Irish striker Barry Conlon is likely to partner Ndumbu-Nsungu up front.
Head to Head
Grimsby have lost five and drawn one of the last six games against the Bantams, but had a good record against City going back to the 70s. Overall though Bradford have edged fixtures between the two clubs, although at Blundell Park there is almost nothing to choose between the two sides over the year.
P 53 W 18 D 12 L 23 F 65 A 75
Grimsby 1-2 Bradford (Sat 25th January 2003)
In January 2003 Town's hopes of a quick return to Division One were rapidly evaporating and relegation looked more of a possibility. However when Boulding put Town 1-0 up it looked like things were on the up. Not so, Livvo was sent off just before half time for use of the elbow and then Bradford scored two second half goals to spoil our day again.
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