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|The club is dying|
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY ended a terrible few days on and off the field with a disastrous defeat at bottom side Southend. The Mariners fell a goal down after 25 seconds, then went on to dominate the first half and levelled before the break.
Southend changed their approach in the second half, and two defensive blunders allowed the home side to command an unassailable 3-1 lead. Luke Waterfall was sent off in stoppage time to put the boot in further to a disastrous game.
Ira Jackson, Luke Hendrie and Owura Edwards came back into the side with Terry Taylor, George Williams and Kyle Bennett dropping out the starting XI.
Taylor gave Southend the lead virtually straight from the kick-off. Town's defence failed to deal with a cross and the ball fell to Taylor who fired it on the half volley through a crowd of players to give Russell no chance.
Grimsby though came into the game almost straight away as Southend appeared to decide to sit on the lead and allow the Mariners plenty of possession. Jackson hit the post from an Edwards cross, then a blow came for Town when Rose limped off and Morais took his place. It seemed to be a blessing in disguise though as Morais's trickery resulted in some dangerous crosses, and Windsor then hit the bar with a looping header from a Morais free-kick.
Just before the break Town scored a much-deserved leveller. Morais was again the provider with his cross flicking off Clifton, and parried by the 'keeper into the path of Jackson for another goal poacher's finish.
Southend had been very passive and after the break, they fundamentally changed their game to be much more proactive and Grimsby found themselves much more on the back foot. Town have got a soft underbelly and again and again, we have seen the Mariners crumble under any sort of pressure.
Town showed that underbelly when Russell was slow to react to a ball which was cleared for a corner. Poor marking from the spot-kick, which was delayed due to a second ball coming on the pitch, allowed the unmarked Clifford a free shot on goal from a central position which he hit low past Russell.
Grimsby made some substitutions but were unable to deal with Southend's revised shape and approach and they fell further behind when Russell failed to get down in time to a tame header by Halford and it went right through him.
Town has a mountain to climb and never looked like they would do so. The final nail in the coffin came when Waterfall was shown a second yellow for a raised arm in injury time.
The match ended. Town had been allowed to play in the first half by Southend, but the home side grabbed the ascendancy after the break and the Mariners were unable to respond. All three goals resulted from poor defending and the decision to drop the club captain and play a 35-year-old goalkeeping coach looks the wrong one now.
Had Ian Holloway not been who he was, he would undoubtedly have been sacked by now, after an appalling start to the season which has seen a string of poor errors of judgement. With the board under pressure and ownership discussions continuing today it's an additional distraction which might be the only thing keeping Holloway in a job.
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