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Grimsby v Gateshead Team News
By: Rob Sedgwick
PAUL Hurst has a full squad to pick from for the opening game with Gateshead, minus striker Connor Jennings (foot) who looks unlikely to be involved until Wembley - should Town get there. It's likely that Hurst will return to the first team those players who were rested for the match at Braintree.
Gateshead are the form side of the quartet of clubs in the play-offs, although they have the smallest fanbase so have overachieved to the finish third, one play above Grimsby. Heed have former Town striker Jack Lester, now 39, back from a groin problem, and on-loan midfielder JJ O'Donnell has also recovered from a gashed shin. Gary Mills will have to change a winning side to accommodate either of them in the first team, who bowed out with a 2-0 win over Cambridge on Saturday. That win was their 14th match without defeat. Gateshead manager Gary Mills won the play-offs with York so knows how to get promoted from this division and his team are once again on a formidable run.
Goals are likely to be at a premium tonight, as was the case in the first semi last night when Halifax beat Cambridge 1-0. Gateshead have kept clean sheets in 5 out of 6 games in April, and Grimsby have also kept clean sheets for the last two games. Both sides will want to be still in the tie when play switches to the North East on Sunday. The Mariners have only lost once to Gateshead in eight games in the 2000s.
A crowd of around 6,000 is expected for the game, which is also live on BT Sport.
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