Match Preview: Bucks v Grimsby Town

grimsby-town-ecAFC Telford United welcome Grimsby Town to the New Bucks Head on Saturday.

Grimsby are a club rich in tradition, having previously been managed both by the late Bill Shankly, who went on to enjoy great success at Liverpool, and also by Lawrie McMenemy who subsequently won the FA Cup with Southampton. Grimsby Town’s most successful manager, however, is Alan Buckley who enjoyed three separate spells as manager between 1988 and 2008.

Following their relegation from the Football League in 2010 Grimsby are also only the fourth club to compete in all top five divisions of English football; the others being Carlisle United, Oxford United, and fellow Blue Square Bet Premier side Luton Town.

The Mariners remain under the stewardship of joint managers Rob Scott and Paul Hurst, who will be familiar to Bucks’ fans following their time at Boston United. Scott and Hurst were in charge of the Pilgrims when the Bucks won 1-0 at York Street in February 2011, just over a month before they moved to Blundell Park.

Grimsby’s squad includes several players who may be well-known to Telford supporters. Club captain Craig Disley will be well-known to followers of Shropshire football after previously playing for Shrewsbury Town, whilst forward Anthony Elding has regularly featured against Telford over the years with various clubs including Stevenage Borough.

Indeed, Grimsby boast a potent forward line following the summer signing of striker Andy Cook from Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Barrow. The 21-year-old, who has agreed a two-year contract at Blundell Park, scored 17 goals in 39 games for Barrow last season including a hat-trick against champions Fleetwood.

Scott and Hurst have also strengthened since the season began, with winger Scott Neilson and striker Ross Hannah arriving from Crawley and Bradford City respectively – both on three-month loan deals. Neilson scored the goal that secured Crawley’s promotion to League One last season whilst Hannah scored three goals for the Bantams last season but has yet to feature this campaign.

One man who won’t feature in the Mariners squad, however, is the tricky Louie Soares who Bucks’ fans may remember from his man-of-the-match display for Hayes and Yeading United at the New Bucks Head last season. Livewire Soares, who has also been with Barnet, Aldershot and Southend United, signed for Grimsby in January after scoring fifteen goals in just 31 games for Hayes and Yeading. However he has recently joined Ebbsfleet United on a month’s loan.

Also currently missing for Grimsby is last season’s top scorer Liam Hearn. Hearn, who is also well-known to Telford followers from his time at Alfreton, has been ruled out for several months after scans revealed he needs to have surgery on a ruptured Achilles. The striker scored 27 league goals last season, including four hat-tricks.

Grimsby endured a disappointing start to the season, failing to win any of their first four matches. However they have found form since and have propelled themselves up the league with a series of impressive victories against some of the most-fancied sides in the division. Both Mansfield and Luton have been beaten 4-1 at Blundell Park, whilst the Mariners have also defeated Forest Green and Hereford as well as drawing 0-0 at high-flying Newport.

Bucks’ boss Andy Sinton has admitted he expects Grimsby to be in the promotion picture at the end of the season. “If they’re not in the top five this season then they’ve probably under-achieved,” Sinton said. “They’re a big club with lots of resources and good players, but they’ll know they’re in for a game here and we’ll give it our best shot.”

Telford will be looking to build on Tuesday’s excellent 4-1 win at Dartford, whilst Grimsby also enjoyed a good away win with a 2-0 success at Alfreton Town.