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A Long Way from Wembley
By: Andy Mitchell
REDDITCH United realistically travelled to Cleethorpes in hope rather than expectation, but the home sides fluent passing was too much for the Blue Square North strugglers, as the Mariners eased their way into the second round of the FA Trophy.
There was an eerie feeling Blundell Park on a cold December afternoon, a small pocket of supporters from both sides tried to create an atmosphere, but in reality, two closed stands and an attendance of just over 1100 told its own story. Town fans just weren't inspired to brave the elements for a maiden voyage in a non-league cup competition; this, coupled with a mismatch on the field made for a pre-season feel to this encounter.
The football was pleasing enough on the eye but lacked a punch, Redditch offered nothing in the final third while Town looked dangerous when they chose to raise the tempo, so it came as no surprise when Michael Coulson prodded the ball past Jimmy Dormand after quarter of an hour, finishing off a smart passing move on the edge of the penalty area, instigated by returning midfield maestro Dean Sinclair.
The Reds, who had just 13 available players to select from, were dealt a further blow midway through the first half when Nathan Smith fell awkwardly and was withdrawn with a suspected broken ankle. Just two minutes after this the Mariners struck again to effectively end the contest, Sinclair again threading a precision pass into the feet of Alan Connell, who checked his run to create some space and hit a beautiful, swirling 20 yard shot beyond Dormand's desperate dive to double the score.
Charles Ademeno drew an awkward save from Dormand, while Phil Green tried to inject some impetus at the other end, despite being the Reds only hope on the day his finishing was wayward as the half petered out.
The second half saw no change in momentum, Grimsby dictating the pace, though the feeling was that had Town moved up a gear they could easily have grabbed a hatful.
United defender Lee Ayres denied Coulson with a last ditch block and Dormand palmed substitute Rob Eagle's effort round the post from an acute angle, before the third duly came on 70 minutes; Eagle's inswinging corner was powered home by the head of Connell and a tiring Redditch side looked a spent force.
Another substitute, Lee Peacock, drew another save from Dormand and Connell was denied his hat-trick from close range before both Coulson and Peacock missed further chances with Redditch looking rather ragged by the end.
Grimsby will face sterner tests than this on the 'Road to Wembley', the question is, will these tests ignite more enthusiasm from the 2000+ missing supporters as a showpiece final draws nearer?
Man of the Match - A few Grimsby players to choose from, but it has to be Dean Sinclair; returning after so long out of the game, he bossed the midfield and set so many of the Mariners attacks in motion.
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