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GRIMSBY 2 PRESTON 3
The Preston squad braved treacherous early-morning conditions
as they crossed the Pennines for our first meeting with Grimsby
Midweek rain had put the game in doubt a number of times during
the week, with the eventual venue (Grimsby YMCA!) the home side's
third choice pitch after the preferred two were both declared
Preston were without leading scorer Cassidy, whose strike partnership
with Brennan had netted 14 goals in the five previous games. Goalkeeper
Quinn was again absent, choosing to spend the day at home hosing
down his house as a precaution due to the fireman's strike.
The squad was boosted however by the return on-loan of Craig Worthington,
fresh from netting five goals in as many games for his new employers
Chorley Reserves. Andy Cooper was another welcome return, slotting
in alongside Chris Reed at the back.
The match began scrappily, with the bumpy surface not helping
Preston's precision passing game. Grimsby were eager and strong
in the challenge, but North End were equally physical and soon
asserted dominance on the opening stages.
Early chances fell mainly to Preston, with Grimsby restricted
to occassional counter attacks, and as Preston pressed a series
of chances went wide from long-range, with Worthington the main
The returning hero was superb from set-pieces however, and it
was his inswinging corner which brought the game's opening goal,
with big Andy COOPER rising above the Grimsby defence to
power a header down and over the line.
North End continued to exert pressure, with Al McCormick, Chris
Brennan and Craig Worthington all going close from inside the
The Preston back-four was solid, and it seemed a low-scoring game
might be on the cards, but with such a slender advantage the visitors
were vulnerable, and just before half-time Grimsby made Preston
A rare attack formed down the home side's right wing, and with
the defence failed to clear a ball in the left-back position Grimsby
capitalised when a freak cross-cum-shot looped over the stranded
Pete Knowles. Think of David Seaman at the St Mary's Stadium -
except Pete hasn't got a pony tail. Rumour has it that he has,
however, had a pony.
Half-time oranges then an it's 1-1, and assistant boss Stewart
Black rallied the troops before sending them back out fired up
Within minutes the whites were behind, when a similarly enthusiastic
Grimsby poured forward and worked their way into the visitors'
box. A neat move ended with a poweful shot deceiving Knowles and
Black's half-time team talk went out of the window.
Such is the spirit of the Preston side though that the game was
far from over. Whilst retaining our overall shape well, Higham
and in particular McCormick were able to apply pressure down the
wings, linking up well with the two Brennan's.
A string of long-throws and corners culminated in a loose ball
in the box which WORTHINGTON was able to latch on to and
loop home to finally get his name on the scoresheet.
Back on level terms and Preston were up for the fight. A powerful
spell of possession football climaxed with Chris BRENNAN
sent clear. With Worthington to his left he chose instead to go
alone and scored what would eventually turn out to be the winning
goal with a neat lob over the advancing keeper.
Grimsby replied but the travelling defence was resolute. North
End continued to threaten on the break, the best chance coming
when a long through-ball from Steve Brennan was latched on to
by brother Chris who, whilst clear through on goal appeared to
be deliberately tripped. The penalty appeals were turned down
by the referee, making for a nervous final five minutes.
The side remained strong though with the Grimsby play being closed
down swiftly in all positions. The final whistle was met with
relief by the Preston side who had worked hard and deserved their
Credit to Grimsby too who, despite having yet to win this season
showed they are a capable side, who should again provide tough
oppositon for the reurn fixture on 14 December.
Man of the match: Andy Cooper