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The Return of the Dead
By: Rob Sedgwick
TOWN'S unlikely escape become a step more feasible this afternoon with a magnificent victory over relegation rivals Barnet at Blundell Park. Town had to win the game to avoid the drop and did so with goals from Rob Atkinson and a late strike from Marc Hudson which prompted a delirious pitch invasion.
The result leaves Town second bottom, but they are now just one point behind Barnet, who must now win their final game of the season at home to promoted Rochdale to be sure of avoiding relegation. Town must realistically beat Burton and hope that Barnet fail to beat Dale if they are to complete the Great Escape.
Dean Sinclair came into Town's midfield to replace Sweeney and Tommy Wright in attack in place of Peacock, who started on the bench.
The atmosphere at the start of the game was awesome, with the home parts of the stadium completely full, and Blundell Park was redolent with the scent of tension and testosterone.
Town's first meaningful attempt on goal came on 6 minutes when Akpro attempted a lob, which was easily saved by the highly rated Cole. Shortly afterwards Devitt rounded off a trademark crisp attacking move with a shot wide.
After a quiet period with not many chances Town should have taken the lead. Hudson was set up by Akpro and broke into the box and found himself with a one-on-one with Cole. Cole got something on Hudson's shot and the ball broke to Hudson, who missed a glorious chance to score, instead striking the side netting in front on the away fans.
Barnet's best chance of the first half came when Oliver Lancashire gave the ball away on the edge of the penalty area, but the chance came to nothing.
Half Time: Grimsby 0 Barnet 0
Town had done a good job defensively, restricting Barnet to a hardly any chances. However they had only carved out one serious opening, so overall the match had failed to live up to expectations. Town would have to be patient though as they really couldn't afford to concede the first goal.
Barnet started the second half brightly and dangerman Adomah finally made his mark on the game with a trademark run and shot, which was charged down by Colgan for a corner. Barnet came very close to scoring from the corner but Colgan managed to punch the ball to safety from almost on the goal line.
Town then gave the ball away again on the edge of the box, and were lucky when it led to Adomah striking the ball over the bar.
Neil Woods was clearly not happy with Barnet's superiority at this stage and he brought on Peacock for Wright on 55, in a move which sparked the home crowd into life. Leary came on for a weary looking Sinclair shortly afterwards.
Woods's substitutions proved to be a masterstroke. Town quickly won a corner thanks to Akpro and from the corner kick, the ball broke to Atkinson on the edge of the box. Atkinson turned quickly and struck the ball into the roof of the net from close range. It was a skilful finish, and Blundell Park erupted as Town had struck first in the most important game for a century.
Colgan was called into action on 66 when he made a flying save diving across his goal to deny O-Flynn.
Town had another great chance to take the lead. Akpro with a deft touched released Coulson into space. The winger looked like he was in a shooting position, but instead cross the ball superbly to the invisible man, and the chance was gone.
On 84 minutes Town had another chance to seal the game when Akpro in space on the edge of the box curled the ball around the beaten Cole, and struck the post. Peacock had a great chance to find the net from the rebound, but limply chipped the ball into the 'keeper's hands.
With finger nails in short supply, everyone around BP was praying the Town's misses would not be costly.
With 90 minutes on the clock and some of the crowd beginning to make their way to the front so they could invade the pitch at the final whistle, there was a groan when the referee awarded five minutes of injury time.
But Town didn't have to play many of them, because Grimsby broke quickly when a Barnet attack came to nothing, and Hudson found himself in a similar one-on-one to that in the first half. This time he took his time and picked his spot, putting the ball past Cole and into the Pontoon net.
Hudson ripped his shirt off and saluted the Pontoon, which prompted several hundred people to invade the pitch. The match was pandemonium for a couple of minutes, with mounted police and dogs springing into action and there were several requests for fans to get off the playing surface.
The ref only played a few more seconds of injury time before blowing the full time whistle which resulted in a much bigger pitch invasion.
Full Time: Grimsby 2 Barnet 0
A thoroughly deserved Town win. Barnet had had their spells, but Town had created the better chances and thankfully took two of them.
Players who stood out for me were Devitt who had worked hard and made some great tackles before he had to ease off on them after being booked. Colgan made some good saves, Bore defended well and made some good runs into the box, Coulson and Hudson were involved in most of Town's best chances, but Akpro gets the nod as Man of the Match for leading the line and always looking dangerous.
It was a privilege to watch a classic game at Blundell Park. It may still count for nothing and Grimsby are still more likely to get relegated than stay up, but the task now is quite simple - win their final game at Burton and hope other results go their way.
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