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REPORT: Grimsby Town v Blackpool

31 December 2016

GRIMSBY Town finished 2016 with a goalless draw against play-off-chasing Blackpool at Blundell Park.

In a game of few clear chances, the Mariners did everything asked of them defensively to make it four points out of six from their two home games over the Christmas period.

At the other end, they were unable to create enough to seriously trouble the visiting defence, with Danny Collins going the closest in the closing stages but diverting the ball wide from a free kick.

Two changes were made to the Town side that beat Accrington Stanley on Boxing Day, with the fit-again Zac Mills reclaiming his right-back berth in place of Ben Davies and Dominic Vose coming into the team as Scott Vernon dropped to the bench.

Dean Henderson marked the extension of his loan from Manchester United by keeping his place in goal, with Mills, Shaun Pearson, Collins and Danny Andrew forming the defence.

Tom Bolarinwa, Luke Summerfield, Brandon Comley and Vose were the midfielders, with Ashley Chambers supporting striker Omar Bogle.

James McKeown again had to be content with a place among the substitutes, where he was joined by Davies, Vernon, Josh Gowling, Craig Disley, Kayden Jackson and Dan Jones.

Blackpool made the journey from the west coast looking for a result which could see them move back into the play-off places.

The Seasiders came into the game in eighth position, one point behind Cambridge in seventh and four ahead of the Mariners.

They would be looking to the likes of strikers Kyle Vassell and Mark Cullen to get the goals, while former Scunthorpe United goalkeeper Sam Slocombe was tasked with keeping them out at the other end.

Town kicked off attacking the Pontoon Stand end of the ground but it was the visitors who made the brighter start, looking to keep possession and settle into the game.

Winger Bright Osayi-Samuel looked to make progress with a run down the Blackpool left but he was stopped by a good challenge from Pearson.

The visitors looked to launch a quick counter-attack on 12 minutes after Mills lost possession but it came to nothing as Cullen was caught offside.

Grimsby were given the opportunity to launch an attack of their own when Bogle was fouled by defender Tom Aldred near the halfway line four minutes later but Mills’ ball into the penalty area was cleared.

Another free kick came when Bogle was again fouled by Aldred, although the offside flag was raised as Andrew pumped the ball into the box from the left.

Henderson was called into serious action for the first time on 19 minutes after another counter-attack saw Brad Potts push the ball through for Vassell.  He aimed for the bottom corner from 18 yards but the keeper got his angles right and dived to tip it around the post for a corner.

A blow for the Mariners came on 21 minutes when Chambers went down with an injury and signalled that he needed to come off.  The game initially continued with the hosts temporarily down to 10 men until they were finally able to make the change, with Jackson the man to go on.

Town almost had an opportunity when a long throw from the left was flicked on but nobody in black and white could get to the ball in front of goal.

A better chance came soon afterwards as the hosts had their first shot on target with 27 minutes on the clock.  Summerfield turned into space on the edge of the box but could not get enough power on his shot to beat Slocombe, who got down to stop it.

Bogle was adjudged to have been fouled on the right on 33 minutes and from the resulting free kick, the Mariners almost took the lead when Andrew looked to catch Slocombe out at his near post but the ball just missed the target, landing on the roof of the net.

At the other end, two corners in quick succession were dealt with by the Mariners, before a break through Vose for the hosts led to a shot from Bogle being saved.

An attempt by Potts from 20 yards was comfortably stopped by Henderson, then the goalkeeper did well on 40 minutes to challenge Osayi-Samuel and win a goal kick after the winger had burst into the penalty area.  Osayi-Samuel thought the challenge was an unfair one and was shown a yellow card for his protests.

A Town corner came two minutes before the break and after Blackpool had twice failed to fully clear their lines, the Mariners kept possession until Andrew eventually shot wide.

Two added minutes were signalled to be played at the end of the half and a chance for the visitors almost came after a free kick from Andy Taylor on halfway fell for Cullen but he could not get enough on it to cause any problems for the Town defence and the ball was cleared.

No further opportunities came before the referee’s whistle ended a half of few chances for either side, with Blackpool perhaps edging it.  Town would look to stay patient and take an opportunity if and when it was to come.

It looked like the second half was about to get under way with no further changes to either side but before Blackpool could take the kick-off, Summerfield limped off the field to be replaced by Disley.

When the action eventually did restart, Samuel saw an early shot saved by Henderson, before the keeper was called into action again, diving full-length to push a goal-bound shot by Vassell away for a corner.

Pearson then had to make a clearance after Vassell had found Potts on the edge of the box, before Town’s first chance of the half saw Vose shoot just wide from 25 yards after linking up well with Disley.

A foul on Vassell gave Blackpool a free kick inside the Grimsby half but after it was played wide to Osayi-Samuel, Comley was able to make an interception.

A purposeful run into the box by Jim McAllister looked to have created an opening for the visitors on 54 minutes but his chipped cross was headed clear by Pearson.

Vose had the ball in a promising position soon afterwards but he looked to play a square ball across the edge of the penalty area and it was intercepted and cleared.

A good chance for the away side came two minutes before the hour when a cross from the right found Cullen at the near post, although he could only glance his header wide.

A cross from Mills was cleared after good play by Bolarinwa and Disley, while a burst forward from the right-back soon afterwards ended when he lost the ball near the Blackpool box.

Mills was forced into action at the other end on 64 minutes after an attempted cross-field pass from Bogle was intercepted.  Cullen and Osayi-Samuel linked up well but the Mariners right-back made a good block when the shot came in.

Potts blasted a free kick well off-target from 30 yards, then midfielder Jack Payne tried his luck with a powerful drive from distance that whistled over the bar as Blackpool continued to create the better opportunities.

At the other end, Vose found Bolarinwa with a good cross-field pass but the winger’s cross was caught by Slocombe.

Town had a let-off when they gave away possession from a throw-in and presented their visitors with an attacking opportunity.  Blackpool took the ball forward and Cullen had a chance from 18 yards but he fired his shot over the bar.

Moments later, Town had a chance of their own when Jackson took the ball into the box and pulled it back across goal but nobody was there to claim a tap-in and the opportunity was gone.

The Mariners were starting to see more of the ball in attacking areas and Bogle was the next to have a shooting opportunity but he could not get enough power on his 18-yard effort.

Blackpool then threatened again but Potts could not direct his header towards goal after meeting a cross from the left.

The visitors made a double substitution with nine minutes to go, as Danny Philliskirk and Michael Cain replaced Osayi-Samuel and Payne.

And their third and final change came four minutes later, as Jamille Matt was sent on in place of Cullen.

A free kick was given against Bolarinwa on the Blackpool left with four minutes to go but it came to nothing as the ball was sent out of play at the far post for a goal kick.

Aldred was booked for pulling Jackson back near the halfway line two minutes later but they too failed to create a goalscoring opportunity from it, as the ball was played to Bolarinwa and he lost possession.

Three added minutes were signalled as the Mariners were awarded a free kick in a promising position on the right.  Vose sent a great ball into the box and it was met by the sliding Collins but he could only divert it wide.

That proved to be the last chance of the game as both sides were forced to settle for a point.

Town are next in action on Monday, when they travel to Carlisle United.

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