Date: 23rd January 2011 at 1:36am
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As the teams were being introduced before the kick off, Grimsby Town debutant Serge Makofo received a loud cheer as his name was announced. The fans were keen to see what difference the new signing could make to the team.

Makofo, starting in place of the suspended Lee Peacock, was joined in the line up by Steve Watt. With Bradley Wood continuing at left back in the absence of Lee Ridley, Watt lined up in the unfamiliar position of right back.

Crawley boss Steve Evans had almost a full squad to select from, and he chose a team to demonstrate his attack minded intentions. The team of course included the League`s top scorer Matt Tubbs, whilst fellow striker Richard Brodie was left on the bench.

The first few minutes saw a solid opening from both teams, although most of the early play was in the Grimsby half. Crawley were clearly going to get forward in numbers whenever the opportunity arose, whilst the Mariners showed that their strategy would be to capitalise on the pace of Makofo in behind the Crawley back four.

The first example of this came in the tenth minute. Rob Atkinson headed clear to break up a Crawley attack, finding Makofo in the centre circle. He rounded Pablo Mills and would have had a clear run at goal had Mills not brought him down from behind. To the amazement of the crowd, Mills only received a yellow card and this was probably due to the distance between the incident and the goal, although that should not have had any effect on the punishment handed out.

The Red Devils were awarded a free kick when Rob Atkinson`s late challenge caught Craig McCallister as he attempted a shot. Tubbs took the set piece, firing low through the wall, but his shot brought out a great save from Kenny Arthur, diving low to his right to hold the ball.

Crawley had continued to enjoy the greater share of possession, but the Mariners were coming into the game as an attacking threat around the half hour mark. Alan Connell went down in the penalty area under pressure from Howell, but he received a lecture from the referee, presumably for diving. Soon after, Peter Bore found himself in space thirty yards from goal. He advanced towards the box and then shot narrowly wide of the upright.

Whilst the game itself had a high tempo to it, the referee was rapidly becoming the focal point of the match. Some of his decisions astounded everybody in the ground, from both camps, and there was a genuine belief that he could lose control of the game. The fourth official was having to bear the brunt of the frustration caused, in particular from the visitors` bench.

But back on the pitch, Grimsby were finishing the half strongly and enjoying their best period of possession. Eagle beat Bulman on the left and the ball was worked to Sinclair whose shot was deflected behind for a Grimsby corner. The delivery was met by Atkinson and was put behind for another flag kick. But, with both teams shaping for the corner, the referee astounded everyone as he overruled his assistant and awarded a goal kick.

The half closed with each team having a golden opportunity to take the lead. First Darran Kempson was totally unmarked from a Town corner, but somehow steered his header over the gaping target. Then, Tubbs was completely free on the edge of the six yard box, but put his first time shot high into the Pontoon stand.

H/T Grimsby 0 Crawley 0

The Mariners started the second half with a flurry of activity and from a corner, Connell fed the ball to Cummins, but his pass to Kempson was cut out.

But Crawley, now playing with the wind in their favour, were pressing the Town defence. McCallister laid the ball off to Torres and he blasted over the goal from 18 yards and then, following their best move of the game, Tubbs couldn`t control the ball and it went through for Arthur to gather safely. The Red Devils had a succession of corners and free kicks, and it was from one of these that Tubbs had yet another sniff at goal. This time his shot was always going wide.

Neil Woods was clearly unhappy with Crawley`s dominance since the break, but his side was struggling to make the same impact as in the latter part of the first half.
The visitors had three further chances to open their account. McCallister sliced wide from ten yards after Watt had missed his header. Howell crossed to Tubbs, who headed past the post from six yards, when he should have scored. Then, from a short corner, the ball was worked into the box, and Wilson saw his header saved by Arthur.

In the 73rd minute Tubbs was withdrawn to be replaced by Richard Brodie. The game had entered a scrappy stage, so it wasn`t long before Neil Woods decided on changes of his own. Mark Hudson replaced Watt to bolster the Town midfield as the game opened up once again.

McCallister, with options either side, decided to go it alone and tried to chip over Athur, but he only succeeded in clearing the bar. At the other end, Connell produced a piece of individual magic that deserved a goal. Creating his own chance he swivelled, turned Mills, but his shot was inches over.

Into the three added minutes, the Town defence held firm, dealing with a break from Brodie. But it was Grimsby who almost snatched the winner when Connell tried to chip Kuipers from 30 yards, but the keeper back pedalled and touched the ball over the bar.

F/T Grimsby 0 Crawley 0

Crawley will no doubt feel that they should have got all three points, given their greater possession and control of the game. But Grimsby contributed well to the game, particularly later in the first half, carved out several good chances and defended extremely well throughout the match – well enough to deserve a point.