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A Tale of Two 'Keepers
By: Rob Sedgwick
LENNELL John-Lewis scored two goals to give Grimsby a valuable win over promotion rivals Torquay. It was a game that Grimsby took the lead in three times, initially against the run of play. Twice Torquay came back but it was the Mariners who got their noses in front on each occasion to eventually win 3-2.
Grimsby elected to play the 4-5-1 formation which has generally worked well away from home, with John-Lewis the lone frontman, and Neilson and Mackreth the wide players. Chris Doing came in at the back for the suspended Shaun Pearson and skipper Craig Disley replaced injured midfielder Craig Clay.
The windy conditions were always going to trouble defenders and goalkeepers and so it proved, although Torquay's 'keeper Martin Rice had an especially poor afternoon and played a hand (literally in some cases) in all three goals.
Torquay had three good chances in the opening three minutes. In the first minute a header by Downes was pushed onto the bar by McKeown and Brown was needed to force the rebound off the line. Then McKeown was called into play to palm away an inswinging free kick in the second minute. Then in the third minute Bowman dinked past Doig and forced a good save from Town's stopper with his feet.
Strangely Town almost took the lead which a corner leading from their first attack after 5 minutes, but Parslow's header fell straight to Rice.
Town had a slice of luck midway through the first half. From a corner Briscoe prodded the ball to Bowman inside the six-yard box, who rifled it at Brown who happened to be stood at the right place on the line and it bounced into a Torquay player too quickly for him to react and went for a goal kick.
Despite all the Gulls pressure it was Town who drew first blood. A Neilson cross was volleyed by John-Lewis, and somehow squeezed past Rice on his near post.
The lead was to last just 5 minutes when Doig fouled Richards on the edge of the box and Young fired it past the motionless McKeown to level the game. It was a similar goal to the one Town conceded early in the game at Halifax.
But there was to be one final twist just before half time when Town took the lead again, Brown played a ball through to Disley, which Rice came out to intercept, misjudged his angles and Disley rounded the 'keeper and slotted in from a narrow angle.
Torquay could complain at half time, they had had most of the chances, missed all the ones in open played, and Grimsby had scored from two of their three attempts on goal, both of which the 'keeper could have done better on.
The home fans though Torquay had scored, and Briscoe looked very likely to, but dragged his shot wide and hit the side netting. It proved to be a warning for Town though as just five minutes later the game was level. Downes got his head onto a ball, headed it into the ground and it bounced past the Town defender on the line.
Town took the lead in the 70th minute with Neilson once again setting up John-Lewis. John-Lewis got a powerful header onto Neilson's cross and it had too much on it to prevent Rice from carrying it over the line, despite getting his hands on it. The linesman gave the goal to the jubilation of the Town fans at that end.
The goal proved to the winner, and Grimsby controlled the game well for the final 20 minutes. Arnold and then Oates came on for the Mariners, and the former was unlucky to see his shot hit the base of the post and bounce out for a goal kick.
Town's game plan worked well largely because they took their chances, which they had to to win the game. Torquay always were going to have a lot of the ball and create a lot of shots on goal. McKeown kept Town in the game with the early saves and Torquay were always chasing the game once Grimsby took the lead. The defence if anything was not as solid as in previous games, maybe they missed Pearson, for Town looked a bit vulnerable at set pieces for once. Neilson was quiet for the first 20 minutes but created the chances for Town to win the game, and the industrious Brown created the second goal for the Mariners.
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