Grimsby a bogey side for Town

IPSWICH Town's 3-0 defeat at the hands of Grimsby Town at Blundell Park on a Tuesday night early in October signalled the end of manager George Burley's lengthy reign at Portman Road.

IPSWICH Town's 3-0 defeat at the hands of Grimsby Town at Blundell Park on a Tuesday night early in October signalled the end of manager George Burley's lengthy reign at Portman Road. It was a sorry night, writes Tony Garnett.

Today Joe Royle's Town side, shaken by the shock of Wednesday night's home defeat at the hands of Wolves, will be out to bounce back at the expense of the Mariners.

Grimsby have the worst defensive away record in Division One this season. They have conceded 37 goals in 16 matches. The odds are they will try to pack their defence in an effort to contain the likes of Darren Bent, Marcus Bent and Darren Ambrose.

Goalkeeper Danny Coyne, a Welsh international who has been player of the year for two successive seasons at Grimsby, can expect to be busy. A former Tranmere player, the highlight of his career was helping Grimsby to beat Liverpool at Anfield in last season's Worthington Cup.

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There are three seasoned professionals and one youngster in the Grimsby back four. John McDermott, the right-back who is now 33 years old, was at one time an Ipswich target. He is a loyal one-club man who took the captain's armband from Paul Groves when the latter took over as player-manager last season.

Tony Gallimore, the left-back, cost £125,000 from Carlisle in 1996 and has proved to be a good servant. Georges Santos, the big Frenchman from Marseilles, is a very similar type of player to Manuel Thetis, who had a spell at Ipswich. Santos started his English career with Tranmere Rovers, moved to West Bromwich and last season played for Sheffield United.

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He became part of Neil Warnock's clear-out at Bramall Lane which is how he came to join Grimsby.

The youngster is 21-year-old Simon Ford, a former Charlton Athletic trainee, who was Grimsby's young player of the year.

Veteran central defender Steve Chettle, who made his name with Nottingham Forest and then became club captain at Barnsley, has had rotten luck with injury this campaign. He picked up a dozen England Under- 21 caps.

Groves, almost 37 years old, has more than 400 League appearances under his belt for Grimsby and approaching 600 in all. As player-manager he leads from the front. It was easy to see why Alan Buckley, one-time Grimsby manager, paid £600,000 for him when he was supremo at West Bromwich in 1996.

There was quite a conveyor belt between Albion and Grimsby for a while, Stacy Coldicott coming from The Hawthorns in 1998 and remaining on the staff ever since.

Winger Terry Cooke looks sure to give way to John Oster on the right wing. Cooke was a Manchester United youth player at the same time as David Johnson, David Beckham and Gary Neville. He played at Manchester City under Joe Royle but was released on a free transfer, quite a change for a player who moved from Old Trafford to Maine Road for a million pounds.

A steadying influence is likely to be provided by Stuart Campbell who cost £200,000 from Birmingham City in 2000. The former Scottish Under-21 international from Corby started his career with Leicester City.

Darren Barnard is also on the staff. Chelsea paid Wokingham Town £50,000 for him in 1990 and sold him to Bristol City for £175,000 five years later. He won 16 caps for Wales despite playing for England Schoolboys.

Barnard had five excellent seasons with Barnsley and played against Ipswich in the Division One play-off at Wembley in 2000. This season he is by no means an automatic choice in the Grimsby side.

Grimsby are hoping that Alan Pouton, a 25-year-old six-foot Geordie, will pass a fitness test on his injured knee. Pouton made his debut for York and arrived at Blundell Park in 1999.

The Mariners' strikers could be Michael Boulding, a 26-year-old who joined Grimsby on a free transfer from Mansfield Town, for whom he scored 12 goals in 66 League outings. He scored 11 goals in 35 League games for Grimsby last season, coming into his own only after the departure of former manager Lennie Lawrence. Boulding was amongst England's top 20 tennis players before he took up football after training with Doncaster Rovers.

Chris Thompson was leading marksman for Liverpool Reserves so it was a surprise when he was released on a free transfer. He is just 21 and a good prospect. Steve Livingstone, one of Grimsby's stalwarts, misses out because he is completing a three-match ban.

Darren Mansaram and David Soames are two youngsters on the mend after injury.

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