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Grimsby 0-1 Walsall - Town Relegated!

By: Richard Lord
Date: 21/04/2003

GRIMSBY's 1-0 home defeat to Walsall has seen them relegated this afternoon at Blundell Park. Stoke's 1-0 victory at Coventry has put the Potters on 47 points with the Mariners way behind on 38 and with only two games left.

Sheffield Wednesday have also been relegated after they threw away a 1-0 lead at Brighton to draw 1-1. The Owls are on 40 points with only six more points available.

Brighton are clutching at straws as they need to win their last two games and hope Stoke lose their last two.

The afternoon started brightly for Town with Michael Boulding the first to trouble Walsall's back line.

The game was end to end (and also keeper to keeper) but the Mariners had the wind behind them. Boulding should have scored when he raced through but he took an extra touch that forced him wide and had to settle for a corner.

Livingstone appeared to have flicked the cross on into the far top corner but Boulding rose and didn't get over the ball as his headed effort flew high over the bar from close range.

Walsall were looking dangerous in their attack with Leitao and Junior linking up well. Coyne was forced to make a low save from a Junior effort early on.

Then disaster struck. Campbell sold Groves short and Walsall pounced through Leitao. He was forced wide by a trio of Town defenders but still managed to squeeze a shot away when the ball wasn't properly cleared.

Coyne made a fine one-handed save to his right but could only palm it into the path of Junior who blasted the ball in off the bar from six yards with McDermott desperately trying to close him down.

The rest of the game was a formality. Grimsby's inability to come back from a goal down again showed although the players continued to press for a way back into the game.

Walsall's three centre-backs had an afternoon of heading practice as Town resorted to the long ball as Boulding drifted out of the game.

Mansaram came on to replace Hughes as the team went to 4-3-3 but it had little effect. Even with three strikers on the pitch there was no end result.

The Mariners had plenty of possession but as soon as the ball entered the final 20 yards of the pitch it was either lumped high for Walsall to head clear or it was played through and out for a goal kick.

Groves had three long-range efforts charged down but despite the hard work, Walsall could have had another three goals.

Substitute O'Connor should have made it 2-0 but was eventually crowded out by Town defenders when he had broken the offside trap.

Then another of Walsall's substitutes Matias wasted two excellent opportunities. Coyne saved one and the other was blasted way over the bar.

That really would have rubbed salt into the wounds but it didn't hide the fact that Town never looked good enough to break down a solid Walsall side.

Terry Cooke saw ten minutes of action which pleased parts of the ground but the game had gone by that point and with news that Stoke were on their way to another three points at Coventry, the fans began to leave the ground.

Before Town start thinking about trips to Rushden and Wrexham, they still have to travel to Reading and face Brighton at home on the last day of the season.

The squad's next aim will be to finish off the bottom of the table.

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