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Season Ends in Wales
By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 29/04/2013 (Last updated: 08/05/2013)
GRIMSBY Town will be playing Blue Square Premier football again next season after falling at the first fence in the play-offs to Newport County. Town were unfortunate to lose the first leg at Blundell Park to the Exiles, and always faced an uphill task in the return leg at Rodney Parade.
Although Grimsby started brightly and looked the better side for the opening half hour, Newport again took the lead against the run of play, as they did in the first leg. Town never even came close to equalising the tie, never mind the leg, and the season fizzled away to a disappointing finish.
Newport will play Wrexham in the play-off final, so a Welsh side is guaranteed to gain promotion to League Two. It has been a good year for Welsh football, with Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham all having won trophies already.
Town made three changes from the side which lost at Blundell Park. They also switched to 4-5-1, playing Hearn alone up front, which had looked the best option to play against Newport in the previous two games, one of which Grimsby had one, and one of which they had lost. Andy Cook was dropped for an extra midfielder Andi Thanoj, and the two wingers Cleveland Thomas and Jamie Devitt were replaced by Marcus Marshall and Jay Colbeck.
Conditions were difficult on a very windy day, and Grimsby decided to kick against the wind in the first half.
Town had the first chance when a long free kick came out to Naylor but he couldn't keep his volley down, then Disley headed wide from a Colbeck cross. Town came closest when Naylor's low shot was turned round the post by Pidgeley, who saw it late.
Newport scored from a quick breakaway, the ball was played to Gilbey who was allowed to run through Town's midfield and cross to Jolley who slotted it in at the far post.
The goal seemed to result in all the confidence drain from Town who looked second best for the remaining 15 minutes of the first half.
Cook came on straight after half time, but it was Newport who had what few chances there were in the second half, the only surprise being that they didn't take any of them.
It was a disappointing end to the season, but Town at least gave themselves a chance by getting into the play-offs. Losing at Blundell Park when luck deserted them was their real failure, not this game. Next year they'll be able to benefit from the experience of what otherwise has been a fairly successful campaign. The squad had been competitive, the FA Trophy run and weather didn't help with fixture congestion, but Town still comfortably take pride in finishing in the top five. Had Grimsby taken three more points and played the second leg at Blundell Park it all might have been different. Had Disley and Niven stayed fit they might have finished a lot higher in the league.
Certainly making big chances at the club over the summer isn't the answer, as a few fans are suggesting. Town ticked virtually every box of what they wanted to achieve this season, a few changes over the summer will give them a platform to mount another challenge from promotion next season, but if Town finish fourth again it will have been a success in 2014.
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