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Stockport Preview

By: Stephen Bateman
Date: 25/12/2000

After sneaking victories against Norwich City and Preston North End, the Mariners will be looking for a more emphatic performance in front of a bumper Boxing Day crowd at Blundell Park. Opponents Stockport will also be looking for valuable points as they attempt to leapfrog Lennie Lawrence's men.

Grimsby Town

In spite of winning their last two fixtures, Grimsby have looked rather shaky, seeming quite happy to concede possession to their opponents. This has been largely due to the formation that the Mariners have been playing of late, with David Nielsen playing as a lone striker, supported by midfielder Kevin Donovan.

This system may well change on Boxing Day as striker Steve Livingstone returns to the squad after a lengthy absence due to back problems and illness. It seems likely that the former Blackburn man will go straight into the side, possibly at the expense of either Stacey Coldicott or Menno Willems.

Defenders Tony Gallimore (shin) and Peter Handyside (flu) are also expected to be back in contention, although it would appear that both players will be forced to settle for a place on the bench.

The Mariners came from behind to claim a shock victory against high-flying Preston at the weekend, and Lawrence will be hoping that his side are able to claim a Lancashire double with victory over Stockport.

Speaking after the Preston victory, the Mariners boss said: "You have to develop a mental toughness and it's coming through in the team. It's about concentration and determination."

Grimsby Town (probable; 4-4-2); Coyne - Fostervold, Butterfield, Enhua, Groves - Willems, Burnett, Campbell, Donovan - Livingstone, Nielsen.

Subs; Croudson, Jeffrey, R Smith, D Smith, Coldicott, Gallimore.

Stockport County

County must still be kicking themselves after throwing away a 2-1 lead against Gillingham on Saturday. Substitute Marlon King denied Andy Kilner's side a much needed victory in the fourth minute of added time.

Edgeley Park has recently been hit by a tonsilitis epidemic which ruled defender Shane Nicholson and striker Aaron Wilbraham out of Saturday's match, and it is likely that the outbreak will claim more victims ahead of Tuesday's clash against the Mariners.

Striker Rob Matthews is a serious doubt after limping off against the Gills and on-loan Liverpool youngster Leyton Maxwell is standing by to replace the former Loughborough University winger.

Hatters boss Andy Kilner, meanwhile, is all set to serve a two-match touchline ban after being red-carded against QPR earlier in the season. The former England Youth winger is alleged to have used abusive language and supposedly called a linesman a "muppet".

Stockport County (probable; 4-4-2); Jones - Nicholson, Flynn, Clark, Cooper - Woodthorpe, Gibb, Wiss, Smith - Wilbraham, Maxwell.

Subs; Brebner, Brynglesson, Dibble, Clare, Daly.

Outlook

Stockport have not won away from Edgley Park since the opening game of the season at Gillingham, and there is little to suggest that this poor record will improve against the Mariners.

Grimsby have turned Blundell Park into somewhat of a fortress in recent months, going unbeaten in their last five home games whilst also notching up four victories.

Since 1988 there have been five meetings between the two sides in Cleethorpes, with Grimsby being triumphant in four, whilst the Hatters have won just once.Most recently, the sides squared off in the FA Cup last year as the Mariners ran out 3-2 winners after a dramatic last minute winner from Bradley Allen.

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