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Five-r Says Town Survive!

By: Richard Lord
Date: 02/03/2002

GRIMSBY Town doubled their 2002 goal tally in one afternoon when they won 5-2 against Crystal Palace at Blundell Park. Before the game the Mariners had only managed to score five goals in the league all year but five different goalscorers ensured an improvement in goal difference.

It may be hard to believe but Grimsby literally destroyed Crystal Palace and exposed their leaky defence. They played the visitors off the park and a lot of credit must be given to the management and all the players.

Andy Todd passed a late fitness test and he started alongside Groves in central defence. Dave Smith carried on at left back and the midfield remained the same, with Pouton also available after suffering from a badly bruised foot. Allen and Boulding started up front, as predicted.

The home side began kicking towards the away fans and immediately put the visitors on the back foot. The first goal came after half an hour when after a scramble on the edge of the box, the ball fell to Todd who shaped to shoot from 25 yards. His shot was slightly deflected over the stranded Clarke and that broke the deadlock.

The first half was coming to a close but a sudden burst of speed by Mick Boulding created a chance for the Sheffield-born striker, and after beating two players he raced towards goal and slid the ball home to double the lead.

Deep into injury time while Palace defender Shaun Murphy was receiving treatment after a clash of heads with Wayne Burnett, Bradley Allen got what his hard work deserved when he poked home from close range after a scramble in the six yard box following a Butterfield cross.

So the Mariners went into the dressing room at half time 3-0 up, and came out for the second in a similar determined mood. The fourth goal was created by Butterfield down the right, and his wicked driven cross could only be handled into the back of the net by Curtis Fleming.

It had been so long since the Town fans had seen any performance as good as this at Blundell park, and Grimsby, despite the luxury of a four-goal cushion, kept creating chance after chance.

However Palace, to their credit, never gave up. Gray scored a wonderful free kick to pull a goal back, and then minutes later Clinto Morrison scored a second after being set up by Douggie Freedman.

On an afternoon when goal difference proved so vital, Town finally got a fifth. Time upon time the midfield played balls behind palace's fragile back line and people like Boulding raced after the ball to create more chances. Allen and Boulding both missed two excellent chances to grab a fifth but eventually Dave Smith grabbed it.

With not long to go, Butterfield broke down the right and ran into the box. After beating one sliding defender he looked up and pulled the ball back for Smith who came steaming in to side foot home.

It was nothing more than the Mariners deserved, and even the introduction of the notorious Ade Akinbiyi made no difference. Todd and Groves stood firm at the back, whilst McDermott and Smith blocked most crosses from the opposition all game.

In all honesty the game could have finished 11-3 but the Mariners had to settle for five - the first time the team have scored five in the league sine the 5-1 win over West Brom three and a half years ago.

Unfortunately other results didn't go for Town, as Wednesday and Crewe won, with Walsall and Barnsley both drawing. However, they are now level on points with Barnsley, who have somehow been dragged back in to the relegation dogfight. Wednesday and Walsall have yet to visit Blundell Park but on this performance, every team to visit Cleethorpes in the future should fear Town.

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