Beware the wounded animal - Braintree travel to Grimsby

IT is arguably the best result in Braintree Town’s history and the lowest point in Grimsby Town’s proud 134-year existence.

Right now the Mariners, who host the Iron on Saturday, are three points off the Blue Square Bet Premier play-offs, while Braintree are enjoying their first jaunt in non-league and sit comfortably in mid-table.

But back in the heady days of August, with the Iron a complete unknown quantity, Alan Devonshire’s men dished out a footballing lesson to the North Lincolnshire side, defeating the former Championship side, 5-0.

No one expected the Iron to maintain their sparkling form from that day while Grimsby would have been expected to improve, considering their professional status, but for assistant manager Keith Rowland, it was the game that put the Iron on the map.

“Saturday’s game has added spice because of what happened in August,” said Rowland.

“I think many Grimsby fans said it was their darkest day in football while it put us on the map and it is a result that our fans will look back on more than the players.

“Unfortunately it’s still a game that is fresh in the minds at Grimsby and I have no doubt that there will still be a few wounds being licked and, while players forget very quickly, I am sure there will be some banter directed towards our bench from the terraces.”

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Back in that historic first match that marked the Iron’s first-ever home game at Conference Premier level, Grimsby were stunned by a two-goal salvo just before the break, succumbing to three further strikes after half-time.

While Grimsby have not undergone major surgery since that day, Rowland is confident the Mariners will be a tougher proposition this afternoon and in 24-goal Liam Hearn, boast the division’s top scorer.

“Our lads are going to a former league club and are going to give it a go,” said Rowland.

“It is always a lovely surface to play on and there should be 3-4,000 in the ground which will be good for our players.

“But I hope they won’t be naive enough though to think that they will be in for an easy afternoon.

“The strikers are better the higher you go up the leagues and nine times out ten, if a ball is played in to the penalty area with pace on it, the striker will usually hit the target.”

The Iron could include former Ipswich midfielder Jamie Griffiths in their squad today, providing manager, Devonshire, can tie up a deal to sign the 20-year-old.

Club captain Kenny Davis should also play despite tweaking his hamstring having played for England C in the 1-1 draw with Italy in midweek, but AFC Wimbledon loanee Brendan Kiernan has returned to his parent club.

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