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Wembley Here We Come!

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 08/05/2016

GRIMSBY finally broke down a stubborn Braintree resistance after over 150 minutes of football in the play-off semi-finals alone, plus 180 minutes in the two league games against the Essex sides. A penalty by Padraig Amond levelled the tie, then an Omar Bogle winner in extra time secured a Wembley place for the Mariners.

In between the two goals Braintree's Mark Philips received a second yellow card. Town had been 1-0 down after losing the first tie at Blundell Park.

Paul Hurst made a change to the starting line-up and formation, leaving Andy Monkhouse out of the squad and bringing Craig Clay into a three man midfield. That allowed Hurst to start with his three main strikers Amond, Bogle and Pittman.

The match though seemed to be following pattern to the previous games between the two ties which Town lacking creativity in the final third. Bogle missed Town's best chance of the first half, but otherwise Grimsby have very little to show for all their possession.

Paul Hurst with half an hour to go brought on two wingers, Arnold and Marshall, and switched to 4-4-2. It proved to be a masterstroke as their pace exploited Braintree's hitherto solid defence and

The game final turned when the referee awarded Grimsby a penalty for an infringement in the box, which Amond stepped up to send the 'keeper the wrong way. Town had enjoyed little luck against Gateshead and Bristol Rovers in the last two years, so it was nice to get a decision to go their way.

Braintree had no Plan B and nothing to attempt but defend and hope for penalties.Grimsby's added impetus resulted in two quick bookings for Philips and the tie became even more one-sided.

Town went ahead when Braintree's keeper tried to punch clear a free-kick and misjudged the flight of the ball. Omar Bogle didn't though, and got their first, clipping the ball off his head into the unguarded net.

Grimsby had ten minutes of extra time to get through but their man advantage meant they weren't unduly troubled.

The Mariners will now play at Wembley on two consecutive Sundays in two totally different finals. The first game is the promotion play-off against Forest Green, followed by the FA Trophy against Halifax the next weekend.

The season looked lost with 15 minutes to go, but was turned around thanks to Town's players and management's plan to overcome Braintree eventually paying dividends.

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