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End of season
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Derby 1-3 Grimsby

By: Richard Lord
Date: 26/12/2002

GRIMSBY Town have given their fans a bonus Christmas present this afternoon as they beat Derby County 3-1 at Pride Park to earn their first back-to-back wins of the season.

Due to the heavy fixture schedule manager Paul Groves made a number changes to the side that won 2-0 on Saturday at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

Chettle made his return from injury at left back, and Jason Gavin started at right back. Youngster Ward started in midfield amongst Groves and Campbell, with Pouton missing out because of injury.

Oster and Cooke started on the wings, with Mansaram occupying the lone striker role in a team that appeared to be searching for a point.

The Mariners got off to the best possible start when Oster put them ahead. Cooke's driven cross was only parried out to the awaiting Oster, who nodded the ball home from close range.

And it could have been two soon after when another good cross from Cooke caused havoc in the Derby defence but the end shot was lacking.

The visitors controlled the first twenty minutes with the hard-working Mansaram at the centre of everything, and wingers Cooke and Oster pushed the home side back.

Inevitably Derby began to work their way back into the game and only a fantastic last-minute challenge from Santos denied lively Christie to add to his goal tally this season.

Groves appeared to double Town's lead, only for his headed effort to just creep wide of the post when most of the travelling fans believed it had gone in.

The equaliser arrived just after the half hour when Chettle's attempted clearance was charged down and Morris raced away to slot home past Coyne.

Towards the end of the half Derby pressed hard but Coyne was only called into serious action on one occasion and so the two sides went in at half time locked at 1-1.

Looking to change things around, Rams manager John Gregory introduced Georgie Kinkladze to the side and for the first 15 minutes of the half it looked to be a good tactical change.

Morris was finding space down the left and Barton pushed up from the right to put the Mariners under pressure. However, on 63 minutes and against the run of play, Town regained the lead.

Oster won a free kick out wide on the left, and his curling free kick was missed by everyone and the ball ended up in the back of the net to make it 2-1.

Youngster Wes Parker was introduced to man-mark Kinkladze in the absence of Stacy Coldicott. Terry Cooke was the man who was sacrificed.

The game began to tighten up as Mansaram chased every ball and Ward closed down every player. Kinkladze failed to create space and chances were limited.

Gavin could have got a third when he found space and time in the box but with three players waiting, the chance went without an end product.

Bolder made an appearance from the bench when he replaced the tiring Ward, who had had an exceptional game in the heart of the Grimsby midfield.

The Mariners made endless attempts to make their third substitution and when they were given the chance, the referee ridiculously booked Mansaram for not leaving the field quick enough.

The player replacing Mansaram went on to seal the game. David 'Digger' Soames pounced when Derby were pushing forward.

Leaving gaps in their defence, Soames picked the ball up near the centre circle and kept on running. Despite going down in the box, the little striker still managed to prod home to make it 3-1.

It was an amazing story for the young striker, to score his first senior goal at Pride Park - and that goal holds a special statistic. It's the first time Grimsby have scored three goals away from home since the 96/97 season.

Paul Groves deserves a lot of credit for making such a brave change to the side that won last weekend.

More importantly, it was the youngsters that began to show what they are capable of. Ward and Mansaram were influential throughout the game, with Parker and Bolder impressing after coming on - not to mention Soames' contribution.

With Bradford, Wednesday and Brighton all picking up the points, it was vital that the Mariners got a result - and what a result it is.

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