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Back Down to Earth
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY were well beaten by Harrogate at Blundell Park, which ended a run of positive results away from home for the Mariners. Although the scoreline was only 2-1, Town were second best throughout the 90 minutes and one of the few positives of the game is that they were numerically in it until then end.
Ian Holloway's squad rotation has worked well recently, but this time the selection tombola threw out a dud combination of players. Luke Spokes, James Morton, James Tilley, Montel Gibson and Owura Edwards all came back into the first team which this time started in a 5-3-2 shape with Harry Clifton in an unfamiliar right wing-back role.
Town's plans were thrown into disarray when playmaker Edwards slipped in the early stages and was forced off with an injury. Kyle Bennett, on loan from Bristol Rovers, came on and was introduced to the Town fans for the first time.
Harrogate's George Thomson had a golden chance to give the newly promoted club the lead when the ball fell to him in the box but he fired over with the goal at his mercy from about 3 yards out.
It was a howler, but Town would soon make one of their own. Midway through the first half James McKeown tried to prevent the ball from going out for a corner, but gave the ball straight to Muldoon - for an easy finish.
Town though equalised almost from the kick-off when Tilley was played through by Bennett and given the opportunity to shoot from distance. His low shot skimmed past the 'keeper and levelled the game for the Mariners.
James McKeown then made up for his mistake when a long ball from the back played Muldoon though but Town's keeper narrowed the angle and made a good save.
Town won a rare free-kick which they hoped might give them a chance of creating something, but they ended up being caught on the break and Muldoon added a second scoring from a rebound.
Town changed to 4-3-3 after the break with Clifton making his way into midfield, but it was Harrogate who continued to threaten and Martin should have scored after a mistake by Pollock but he shot wide.
Gomis came on for Town - in yet another debut in a season of debuts - and looked one of Town's better attacking options, managing to hit the side netting from a Mariners' break.
Grimsby had possession in the closing stages of the game but created virtually nothing as Harrogate proved very hard to break down.
It was a frustrating performance by Town against a well-organised side, but one on which Holloway learned more about his squad. The injury to Edwards robbed Town of their most creative player and other than Tilley there was nobody on the pitch who looked like unlocking the Harrogate defence. The lack of options on the bench was also exacerbated by having to make an early substitution.
Grimsby return to Blundell Park on Saturday to face Carlisle and doubtless will see a return of at least some of the players who were dropped following the win at Leyton Orient.
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