Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
Town Go Fourth and Multiply
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY will play Gateshead in the play-off semis after a rather "end of season" game at Braintree finished in a 0-0 draw. Gateshead went above the Mariners with a win over 3rd placed Cambridge and Halifax drew with Kidderminster to book their play-off game with Cambridge.
Town made numerous changes and put out a side comprising of a mixture of those coming back from injury and others who had not had much recent first team experience - in other words virtually a reserve team. The rest of "the group" had travelled with the playing squad and took their seats in the one small stand which Braintree's ground accommodates.
Braintree needed to win to have a chance of getting into the play-offs but you wouldn't have guessed it from the turnout, atmosphere or urgency of the players on the pitch. Grimsby were basically there for the taking with the side they had put out, but Braintree seemed already resigned to their fate as plucky parttimers from the kick off.
That said Braintree had numerous chances to win the game, or at least force Hedge to make a save, but their finishing was worse than woeful. Town had chances as well. A Thanoj volley in the first half would have probably gone in had it been on target, but it went just wide.
In the final stages of the second half a goal either way would have resulted in a totally different outcome. Had Grimsby scored and won they would have played Halifax, if Braintree had grabbed a late winner then the Mariners would have to play Cambridge. And if the game remained a draw Grimsby would be paired with Gateshead.
Right at the end Town's man of the match Andy Cook should have won the game with Town's best chance but his feeble shot trickled straight at the 'keeper.
So Grimsby finished fourth to repeat last year's showing and emulate their last four appearance in the FA Trophy and their last four finish in the FA Cup for non-league sides.
The Mariners play Gateshead at Blundell Park on Thursday night (7:45pm) and then travel to Tyneside for the return leg on Sunday afternoon (4pm). Town fans will probably outnumber the Heed support in both games, although Gateshead are the form team of the four play-off contenders so nothing can be taken for granted.
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