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Town Win in Style
By: Rob Sedgwick
AN emphatic display of counterattacking football saw Grimsby brush aside the challenge of bookies' favourites Luton at Blundell Park on Friday night. The Mariners put the game out of sight with a 3-0 half time lead.
After the break a Luton own goal saw Town go 4-0 up, and only a rare mistake from the otherwise impeccable McKeown stopped Grimsby from recording another clean sheet,
The result and the performance sends a marker out to the rest of the division that Grimsby can be considered as genuine challengers for the title in May. Both new signings started and played well, Ross Hannah scored a terrific goal on his debut, and Town looked far more dangerous every time they attacked than they have done for a very long time.
In fact Luton enjoyed possession for long periods of the game. but Grimsby soaked up everything the Hatters threw at them, and broke quickly up the field, looking dangerous on both wingers or through the centre. The corner count of 12-3 to Luton tells that Grimsby did not dominate the game at all possession wise, but in terms of meaningful chances Town were well ahead.
Luton wrong the toss and decided to kick the "wrong" way, meaning Town were attacking the Pontoon in the first half - their lucky end (if there is such a thing at Blundell Park), where the majority of home goals seem to be scored.
Grimsby integrated both new signings into the starting line-up. Neilson started on the left wing in place of Artus, and Hannah got the nod up front in Elding's slot alongside Cook.
The pattern for the game was established quite quickly. Luton, themselves after three points, had a lot of possession and Town defended resolutely, then when Grimsby did get the ball they broke quickly and with one or two touch football and struck before Luton had chance to get everyone back in their defensive positions.
The first goal came in a quick break by Town. The impressive Thomas set up Niven whose cross found Cook's head. The header was well saved by Tyler in Luton's goal but the rebound fell to Colbeck to put Town in front.
The next half hour saw Luton come in to the game and put Town under a lot of pressure. Town defended superbly though with all the back four playing their parts. When it did get through to McKeown he too was equal to the task. A ball in the box was inadvertently flicked on by Pond into the path of Rendell, but McKeown made a superb reflex save to keep Town's lead intact.
But just when it looked like Luton might be the next to score, Town broke forward and scored again. Thomas was once more the provider, crossing for Hannah to head against the bar, and this time it was Cook's turn to get something on the rebound, stooping to head the ball into the net. Cook finally had broken his duck for the Mariners!
4 minutes later Town were in dreamland. A long ball was played along the ground to Hannah, who was initially well behind his defender. He raced on and was first to the ball, although Kovacs should probably have "row Z'd" it, and managed to clip the ball low past the 'keeper and into the Pontoon net.
At the start of the second half Macca had to make another save, diving low to parry a header from a Luton corner.
On the hour mark Colbeck nearly scored from another quick Town break instigated by the impressive Neilson. The ball was saved by Tyler and Cook just missed yet another rebound opportunity for Town.
Cook could have had a hat trick on another night, and not long after he again hit the bar, rising above the defence from a corner to smash the ball against the woodwork.
Town went 4-0 up from a Beckwith own goal, the ball deflecting in off the Luton defender from a Town free kick
Town's only mistake came near the end when McKeown failed to hold on to a routine save and Rendell poked it home from close range.
Town played well from 1-11. The 'keeper and defence were equal to everything Luton threw at them, which was quite a lot. The midfield battle definitely was won by Grimsby, and in attack Town were fast and ruthless. For the first time in ages Town now have two genuine wingers, and in Thomas we must have one of the best attacking full backs in the league.
Grimsby enjoyed 5-0 and 7-1 wins over Luton in the 90's at Blundell Park during their golden era of the last 30 years. Could this 4-1 result be looked on with similar fondness in years to come?
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