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The Feeding of the Five and a Half Thousand

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 06/01/2019

OVER 5000 fans almost watched a footballing miracle at Selhurst Park as Grimsby almost overcame David v Goliath odds to remain in the FA Cup despite having been reduced to 10 men for the entire game after an early VAR decision went against them.

The odds were already stacked against Town who had a makeshift defence at the start of the game. Their match plan was in tatters when the only defender playing in his natural position, Fox, was dismissed in the second minute. The ref initially waved play on, then when Palace's attack broke down he went back and showed Fox a yellow card only for moments later to bring out the red card after the VAR decision had been communicated to him.

This wasn't clear to the 5000+ Town fans who reacted angrily to the decision and directed abuse at Andros Townsend all game as a result. Although in truth Townsend had not done anything wrong.

Town had not had the chance to show what they were capable of and Woolford was pulled back it the vacant left back slot to form an entirely makeshift back four, and leaving Thomas as the only nominal attacker.

The Mariners began what effectively was Custer's last stand when Reece Hall-Johnson made a superb clearance on the line to deny Alexander Sorloth.

Palace continued to pepper Grimsby's goal with shots but everything they tried either missed or Town's defence was equal to. Zaha produced a good save from McKeown, and Woolford cleared off the line then McKeown blocked the follow-up from Sorloth.

McKeown ten made another amazing save to tip Martin Kelly’s effort onto the post.

Grimsby had a mini-spell of their own just before the break winning a free kick and then a corner from which Embleton struck a long-range effort straight at Wayne Hennessey.

The pressure got even more intense after the break with Palace winning a succession of free kicks around the edge of the box. Palace also hit the post and the ball bounced back into McKeown's welcoming arms.

The fairytale ending was not quite to be but Town held on for 86 minutes. Ayew was left unmarked from a free kick and powered his header into the net for a straightforward goal.

There was enough time left for Town to have a bit of possession for themselves and Embleton created a great chance for himself when he created space for a shot on goal but fired just over.

It was not to be but Grimsby can be immensely proud of their players, who rewarded their magnificent support with a performance to be proud of. Everyone played their part but Rose and Hall-Johnson were both superb in their unaccustomed roles. Being able to play in more than one position is a real asset for a club at League Two level and many of the players demonstrated what valuable squad members they are.

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