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At the Races
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY got off the mark with their first league win of the season, to follow on from the 0-0 draw at Bolton at the weekend. The Mariners were deserved victors over early pacesetters Cheltenham, who had been strongly fancied to take all three points.
A trio of goals from Edwards, Tilley and Windsor open Town's goal-scoring account for the season.
Ian Holloway made five changes from the side that won a point at Bolton. James Morton, Montel Gibson, Owura Edwards, James Tilley and Ludvig Öhman all came in for the Mariners as the Town boss made full use of his squad.
Cheltenham started well and Town were very fortunate not to concede an early penalty when Waterfall fisted the ball onto the post. It could easily have been a penalty and red card but the officials missed it, maybe one benefit of not having a crowd?
Town drew first blood when dangerman Edwards dispossessed a Cheltenham player, skipped around two others and fired it into the top corner to get Grimsby's season off to a start.
Gibson then was played through and went around the 'keeper but lost the ball in the box under a slight challenge and the referee correctly brushed aside Town claims for a penalty.
It was then Town's turn to give the ball away in their own half and the home side took full advantage, with it being crossed to Williams for a tap-in to level the game.
McKeown kept the score level with a save from his feet after a good Cheltenham move led to a strike by Liam Sercombe. With both sides contributing to an attacking game, Gibson then had another good chance when the ball bounced fortuitously to him but he blasted wide.
The Mariners then took the lead, with another glaring mistake after Town broke out of defence and a Tilley regulation shot straight at the keeper went through his hands on a slippery night.
Town went in at half time deserved leaders but would have their work cut out to maintain that lead against a strong side.
After the break though Gibson had another golden chance with a further one-on-one with the 'keeper, this time with all the time in the world - his inexperience showed though as he rushed his shot and sliced it well wide.
Cheltenham pressed and looked for all the world to have levelled the game for a second time when Sercombe struck from close range, but McKeown made an extraordinary reflex save to paw the ball away and keep Town's lead somehow intact.
Edwards was electric throughout the game and caused endless problems for Cheltenham. He then turned provider setting up Windsor who showed composure in front of goal and slotted it past the keeper to put the game beyond doubt.
It was an excellent win for Grimsby, and a great confidence boost after the side looked beyond rusty in the opening games. Town could and should have scored a lot more goals, and had to rely on a worldie from McKeown to keep them in the game. However, they played with a swagger and purpose that has been lacking for a long time.
Ian Holloway has seen a lot of his players now and is still finding his best side. Hanson's return as a sub last night was a welcome sight as he's arguably the only genuine centre forward at the club, and keeping him fit is a vital task for Holloway. Grimsby though proved last night that they can score without Hanson, and the number of options that the Mariners have available will give opposing managers plenty to think about.
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