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Grimsby Town 3 Portsmouth 1

By: Richard Lord
Date: 29/12/2001

NEW Grimsby Town manager Paul Groves was given a dream start by his valiant Mariners team as they ran out 3-1 victors against a depleted Portsmouth side. Assistant manager Graham Rodger stood in the dugout as Groves played his part in Town's first win since late October.

The captain's armband was passed to regular left back Tony Gallimore although his job today was in central defence along with the manager and youngster Simon Ford. Coyne continued in goal with Chapman and Neilson as wingbacks. Burnett, Coldicott and Butterfield were the three across midfield and Thompson was given a start up front alongside Jevons.

From the start the game was a scrappy affair as both teams struggled to get going, although it was Pompey who settled the quicker. Grimsby pushed forward on rare occasions but failed to trouble the keeper. Portsmouth broke at speed, causing problems down the flanks but generally the danger was contained well by the Town defence, marshaled by the manager.

Just after the half hour mark Peter Crouch got to a low cross from the left to nod past the unfortunate Coyne to give the south coast side the lead. The omens weren't good, as Grimsby had never come from behind to win a game at all this season. Ironically, where heads had fallen before, the goal woke the home team up and they began to pass the ball around and create half chances.

Danny Butterfield's corners were causing the keeper to be indecisive and Town pounced on the chance that came their way nine minutes before half time. Butterfield's corner wasn't collected cleanly and the ball fell to Jevons who toe-poked home from close range to bring Town back on level terms.

Minutes later and another corner from Butterfield caused hesitancy in the Portsmouth defence to open up a chance for young Simon Ford, who rose majestically at the far post to nod home Town's second goal. From what looked like being a half time deficit was quickly turned into a lead, despite being the second best team for most of the half.

The second half started well for the Mariners as they began to take control of the game, although Pompey threatened on the break. A handball appeal was turned down by the referee in front of the home crowd and minutes later Phil Jevons was pulled down off the ball but again the referee was adamant.

Grimsby were working for each other and were playing with much more width but Portsmouth then began to frustrate the home side by keeping hold of the ball for long periods. Danny Coyne came to Town's rescue on no more than three occasions to deny Crouch and Lovell.

Then Jevons worked a chance out for himself and was tripped up in the are but the referee again refused to give what was a clear penalty. Instead Jevons was shown a yellow card for diving. In the 80th minute Town finally got their penalty when a great ball by Burnett found Chapman racing through on goal but he was cynically brought down by Prosinecki just as he was about to shoot.

Jevons picked the ball up and slammed it home from the spot to give the Mariners a comfortable two-goal lead, but Prosinecki somehow stayed on the field and wasn't even showed a yellow card.

It was a dream start for the new management team who brought the best out of the squad under difficult circumstances. First they went behind but fought back and from then on the crowd got behind the team to see them home and gain three very valuable points.

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