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A vicar in a new Parrish...


robterrace

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Sometimes in life, theres a decision that had to be made. This was one of those moments.

I slid into the train seat as I left the life I'd known for the past few months behind, having been dropped at the station early on that morning, with just a few pounds to my name, no home, no job, and just the clothes on my back as my only belongings.

This was a journey into the unknown, as I had in my pocket, a letter which provided the unlikely solution to my problem, but that would come to light later on.

I'd spent the majority of my working life in football. Never good enough to make it as a professional, I jobbed around the local non league, playing in the Northern Counties leagues, before deciding to take my coaching badges.

Making the move from playing to coaching is never easy, but I found it a lot easier than most, finding employment in the Football in The Community Department of one of the local sides as I took first the FA guided coaching awards, before moving on to taking the UEFA 'B' and 'A' licences.

It was just after finishing the final rung of this progression that things began to go wrong.

I'd passed the Pro Licence in the January, and had been on a night out with my colleagues to celebrate this, when it happened.

In a small town centre bar, I noticed that one of the patrons was harrassing a young woman, and not taking no for an answer, decided he was going to start hitting her. I went walking across to him, and told him that he was out of order, to which he swore at me, and threw a punch.

The punch wasn't powerful, as the effects of alcohol dulled his reflexes, and he couldn't see where I was due to the light, and it was easily avoided, and I swung back with my fist, in an aim to defend myself. It connected with the side of his head, and he dropped like a sack of bricks.

Within seconds, the staff of the bar had called an ambulance, and along with this, the police came as well, placing me under arrest for assault. It was the first time in my life I'd ever been in a police cell of any sort, and I was terrified.

It was the next morning before I was interviewed, the police letting the alcohol work its way out of my system in order for me to regain my faculties.

I'd admitted my actions from the start, and was bailed to await my day in court, which was a couple of weeks later.

The day came, and I attended the court, admitting my guilt, as there was no way I could deny what I'd done. The judge accepted that there had been some mitigating circumstances, and the young woman who had been the target of the unwanted advances had appeared to give her side of the story, The hearing lasted less than an hour, with the judge retiring to decide on his verdict just before lunch.

My solicitor thought that I'd get a community sentence, spending the time doing reparations in the local area.

However, the decison that the judge came back with was a shock to us all.

'I find that your actions on the night of January 22nd were unduly violent, and although you felt it your duty to step in and protect the honour of the young woman, you could have defused the situation without the need for violence, and it is because of this, and the fact alcohol was involved, that I find you guilty of the offence and sentence you to 9 months in prison. This will allow you to take the time to realise the potentially serious consequences of your actions.'

I stood in the dock dumbfounded, and felt a hand on my shoulder, which led me off towards the cells and my new life..

However, my reverie was broken by the announcement that the train was nearing my destination. As it slowed to a stop, I stood up, and waited for the doors to open.

I walked out of the station doors, and onto the taxi rank. Finding an available taxi, I opened the door and got in the back..

'Where to mate?' the driver asked...

'Blundell Park' was my reply.

I sat back, and spent the 5 minute journey thinking.

The taxi arrived at its destination, and after paying the driver and thanking him, I made my way to the reception area.

'I've got an appointment', I told the girl behind the desk.

'I know you have Mr Parrish, welcome to Grimsby Town, the board are expecting you'....

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Thanks for the comments guys..

A little bit more build up, then we'll get started.

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I was met by a couple of people, who led me through to the boardroom, where all the business was to be done.

'Hi Neil, as you know, Mr Fenty will run through the proposition with you, and subject to your acceptance, we'll announce everything this afternoon'.

John Fenty, the chairman of Grimsby Town had made his money in the fish markets of North East Lincolnshire, taking over his fathers haulage business in the early 1980's before starting a food processing company which took a great majority of the market share over the next 27 years before he stood down as chairman after it was sold.

Fenty had been on the board of the club since the late 1990s but became Chairman of the Mariners since 2003 after Peter Furneaux stood down. He has thrown a portion of his personal wealth into the football club, saving it from serious financial difficulties on several occasions. He was a formidable man, and one not to be crossed.

'Neil, take a seat, and we can get started'.

I took the seat that had been offered, at the side of the large table in the board room.

'As you know, we need a new manager, and the recommendations we've recieved from everyone we've asked has said that you are the right man'

'Well, I've not had any chance to do any real coaching since January, I mean, I've not even got any idea of whether the FA will let me continue as a coach'.

'We've broached the subject with the powers that be, and they've said that they have no concerns, as long as your conduct does not cause any scandals. We're willing to give you a two year deal, and we want you to use your expertise to keep us safe from relegation this season, and improve our position in the coming years. We put the faith in you when we paid to put you through the coaching courses, now is the time to give us a little bit back.'

I took all of a moment to consider my options.

'Well, when you put it to me that way, I have no option but to accept your offer'

'We knew you would Neil, we've got some quick media bits and pieces to do later on this afternoon, but in the meantime, I've had the coaching staff run up some reports for you, to help you along, they'll be in your office when you get there'

I stood up, shook hands with the three men, and left the room.

After I left, I went down to the side of the pitch, with the receptionist on the front desk pointing me in the right direction.

Walking out to the centre circle, I knelt down, taking in everything that had just happened.

I'd been out of prison less than 2 hours, had perhaps the most surreal interview ever, and been offered the job that I'd been lined up for when I started coaching 10 years ago.

For this Grimsby lad, it only meant one thing.

Grimsby Town Football Club was never going to be the same again.

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Thanks for the comment tenthree..

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There was only so much time I could spend walking round the pitch, as I'd got a couple of reports on my office table to look at, so I had to go back inside to deal with them.

The first one was from Chris Casper, who, for the moment was my assistant manager. The former Reading and Manchester United player had worked his way up the coaching ladder in a similar way to myself, but had moved across from Bradford in recent months to provide some expertise to the management.

His report said that the team required strengthening in several areas, but the most pressing concern was the weakness pinpointed at left back, which would need rectifying in the coming month before the season started.

We also had several players already signed for the club on long term loan deals, a couple of whom had picked up fairly severe injuries, so we would have to consider whether retaining their services would be a reasonable option for us.

The report also highlighted some youth team players who Casper rated as potential first teamers, but with a footnote saying that the lack of investment by previous boards had led to the youth team not performing as well as was hoped, but that could be dealt with over the coming year.

The other report was from our only other member of coaching staff, former Town player, Steve Croudson, who had only recently retired from the game due to a recurrent injury.

Croudson reiterated the points that my assistant had made, but also included a footnote saying that we needed to look at recruiting another keeper, as should the first choice, Nick Colgan, pick up an injury, he wasn't sure whether the replacement would be up to the job.

He also said that we'd need to look for a replacement for Colgan, as he was getting to the twilight of his career.

I slumped back into my chair, taking a minute to let the nature of the report sink in.

There was a lot needed doing, but first of all, there was a press conference that needed taking care of.

I didn't like the press at the best of times, and given my immediate past, I was certain that some elements of the press pack were going to make it difficult for me.

But, I suppose we'd have to wait and see, as there was no way I was going to make their job easy.

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Before I made my way downstairs though, I had a phonecall to make. I needed to get the basis of a coaching team around me, so that I could attempt to work on the players in the best way possible over the preseason, and throughout the season.

I also needed to reform a group of scouts, as the previous setup had been taken apart at the end of the previous season, and in order to succeed, I felt that I needed to pick up any good, young, players that were available to me, as going from the initial interview, it was clear that I wasn't going to have a transfer budget for the forseeable future, so I was going to have to do some wheeler dealing.

It wasn't ideal, but on the back of the phonecall, I'd highlighted several interested coaches and scouts, including one coach who I'd met on the UEFA 'B' course a decade ago.

I took a look at the clock on the wall, which was indicating that it was now almost 13:30, there was a knock on the door, which could mean only one thing, it was time to meet the press.

I made my way down to the boardroom for the second time today, and was knocked back by the quick transformation that had occured in there, with about half a dozen press sat on one side of the room, with the standard 'press conference' table at the other side. I made my way into the seat that was offered up, between the chairman, and the press officer.

There were the usual journalists for the press conference, covering it for the local media, but there were also a couple from the national media, who had obviously come up on the basis of a juicy story on my past.

The usual questions were asked, mainly covering what my ambitions were, and whether I was happy to be in charge of a club I'd been involved with for several years, which was all good, but I knew there was going to be some pressing questions coming up.

'Are you sure you're the right man for the job, given your history of a short temper, and your use of violence in problematic situations in the past?' came the almost snarled question from one of the National media journalists.

The chairman went to answer for me, but I raised my hand to stop him.

'I could sit here and just let my Chairman lead the way on the answer', I started, 'but, I can't expect to sit and hide behind him all the time. I made an error in my judgement which led to the situation I found myself in over the past few months, but I've learnt from the experience, and if that is what I need to do, then so be it. I will not change who I am, or my principles, but I am determined to succeed, and with the support of my staff and everyone else at the club, that is my number one aim'.

It was probably the most difficult question of the press conference, as the line of questioning soon moved onto my ambitions for the club, and if I had any transfer targets in mind already.

After dealing with those questions, it was down to pitchside for the photos to be taken, me, standing there with a Town scarf, trying my best to look happy, and after that, it was one on one interviews with local TV and Radio stations, who I'm sure would be using me to pass some air time in the coming day or two.

It felt like an age, but almost an hour and a half after I first left the office, I was back in there, this time trying to get hold of my assistant manager, so I could at least have a face to face meeting with him, and pick the players that we were going to target as potential signings.

I found him in the gym, having a quick workout, but when he saw me, he stopped what he was doing, and came across to introduce himself to me properly.

He knew that there was work to do, and we had to make a fighting start on it right away.

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Frustration.

That was the buzzword of the morning.

I'd just got off the phone from another manager, as I was enquiring whether or not I could take one of his players on loan.

A lot of clubs were apologetic, as they felt that we either weren't the right option for their players, or that none of their players were available for transfer.

However, I took a bit of time out on the Friday morning to make my way down to London to watch the draw for the first round of the Carling Cup. I was hoping for a draw which would pitch us against Scunthorpe, Doncaster or Lincoln, which would bring a little bit of excitement in with a local rivalry feel to it.

I wasn't too disappointed however, when we drew Norwich City, and at Blundell Park as well. The League One club had been relegated last season, and would be a formidable test for us, I was happy for it to be at home, as it would raise some well needed money.

Shortly after leaving the draw, I received a phone call from the agent of Peter Sweeney, informing me that his player had accepted the one year contract extension I'd offered him a couple of days previously. He would be a central part of the team for the coming season.

The next day saw our first runout of the season, with League One side Brentford making the trip up to North East Lincolnshire. The first half saw us quite literally blown out of the water, with Brentford streaking out to a 3-0 lead. Half time substitutions saw some of the youth teamers come on, and it took less than a minute for one of these substitutes to make an impact, with 17 year old striker Nathan Dixon pouncing on a through ball to finish in the top corner, before scoring from 6 yards to finish the scoring and leave us defeated despite a better second half.

Sunday morning dawned with good news on the transfer front, with Scottish left back Marco Pelosi accepting our offer to move back from Australia's Perth SC on a free transfer. The highly rated 23 year old former Hearts trainee signing a 2 year deal and becoming our first signing of the summer.

Pelosi got his first run out in a Mariners shirt the following night, playing the entire game when Championship side Watford came to town and ran out 2-0 winners, despite excellent performances from several Grimsby players.

Straight after the match however, we had the best part of a week to get ready for our next game, against Alfreton Town, and we received some more good news when 16 year old New Zealand midfielder Jamie Doris accepted the deal we had offered him. The former Hibernain trainee, who holds a British passport, and therefore won't require a work permit, stands 6'3" and will be one for the future as a holding midfielder once his strength and conditioning is worked on.

I was in a better mood than I was a couple of days earlier, we'd got a couple of signings under our belt, and there were the best part of a dozen offers on the table for other players.

It was early days, but it was difficult not to be confident. I mean, we had to be, as otherwise, it would all end in tears.

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The only problem with preseason is that everything seems to happen a lot slower than it actually does, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Training was going well, with there being a noticeable difference in the condition of some of the squad, and the rest beginning to show an improvement.

With a couple of days to go until the Alfreton friendly, we confirmed our third signing of the season, although this one was a loan, with defender Stephen Forbes making the move south from Scottish Champions Glasgow Rangers. The 18 year old could play anywhere across the back 4, and would come in handy providing cover in case of an injury crisis.

A matter of hours later, we confirmed another signing, with French left winger Louis-Georges Mongin coming in on a free transfer. He had been unattached since leaving Cambridge United 4 years ago, and signs a 2 year contract.

There seemed to be a lot of similarity between the contracts the new players were signing, with every one of them so far coming in on 2 year deals. I felt that by doing this, it didn't put too much strain on the clubs finances, whilst still giving the players security at the same time.

Another 2 year deal was handed out on the Friday morning, with former Bournemouth winger Steven Foley joining on a free transfer. The diminutive Irishman is a distinct upgrade on what we had in the position, and is probably the first signing we made that could be classed as a 'first team' signing.

After the Foley signing, I had a phone call from Chris, who was of the opinion that we'd probably got enough cover in the squad now for anything but the worse injury crisis.

There wasn't much to do now than sit down and prepare for Alfreton tomorrow, I'd put out my strongest side, and go for it from the off. It was the least I could do.

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Friendly #3

Alfreton Town [bSS] vs Grimsby Town [L2]

Approaching this match with the same point of view as a league game seemed to be the best option. Alfreton were a couple of divisions below us, and should provide a stern test for the new look side that we were trying to build up.

We arrived at the Town Ground at just after 1pm, which gave us more than enough chance to have a good discussion on what we wanted to achieve, as well as letting the squad have the opportunity to relax before kick off.

Lining up in the 4-4-2 formation that would more than likely be the first option by the start of the season, this was the team selected.

GK - Nick Colgan [C]

LB - Joe Widdowson

RB - Robbie Stockdale

CB - Rob Atkinson

CB - Ollie Lancashire

LM - Stephen Foley

RM - Ashley Chambers

CM - Peter Sweeney

CM - Stephen Forbes

CF - Paris Cowan-Hall

CF - Tommy Wright

It was my aim to play at least the first half with this side, before changing tactically for the second half, to give us the opportunity to work on some of our weaknesses.

The first quarter of an hour was like a boxing match, both teams taking the chance to push the feelers out, but not quite getting close, however, a problem had arisen when Tommy Wright tried to take the ball wide on the right, but instead of breaking clear, just pulled up, holding his leg.

To ensure he got swift treatment, he was withdrawn, with Chambers pushing up front, and substitute Peter Bore coming on to play on the wing.

It got worse on the half hour, with Stephen Forbes, making his first start since signing on loan from Rangers, receiving his marching orders from the referee for an innocuous challenge on Ian Ross, in which the referee had adjudged him to have swung his elbow at the former Sheffield United trainee. Paris Cowan-Hall was withdrawn immediately, with Mark Hudson coming on to fill the gap in midfield, and Chambers was left to plough the solo furrow in attack.

We still created opportunities, with Foley and Sweeney hitting efforts wide and over, and Ollie Robinson having a header cleared off the line by the keeper, however, at half time, it remained 0-0.

There was only one change made at half time, Sweeney being withdrawn and replaced with Louis Mongin, and Stephen Foley would drop into the centre of midfield to try and provide a bit more impetus.

As was to be expected, Alfreton pushed more bodies forwards in the second half, trying to catch us out at the back, making use of the extra man, however, their chances were all from outside the box, and covered by Colgan, who was doing a sterling job in marshalling his defence under pressure.

With time running down, we managed to get on the front foot for the first time in the half, with Foley, Mongin and Chambers all having efforts saved by Paddy Gamble in the Alfreton goal, however, time ran out before either team could register a goal, and it finished 0-0.

There were more questions than answers came out of the match, with the first one being whether we could create more opportunities by staying with the 4-4-2, or whether putting more men in midfield could be more profitable.

When we got back to Grimsby however, the report on Tommy Wright was of a more pressing concern.

What was initially thought to be a muscle strain in his hamstring, was diagnosed as a cartilage tear, and it would be touch and go as to whether he made it back to fitness for the first game of the season.

There were 3 days until the next game, away at Thurrock. We'd have a look at a 5 man midfield against them, and hopefully, we'd put one of the chances we create away.

In the meantime, it was back into the transfer market for us, with Angelos Tsiaklis coming in on a free transfer, the ex Manchester City trainee having been unattached since being released by Wrexham a few weeks previously.

We had a bit of an injury crisis in the offing however, as on top of the injury to Tommy Wright, we had 3 players missing with knee injuries and another couple with broken bones, although, they had been missing since before the start of the preseason, the earliest returnee of those would be at least a couple of months off, but once they returned, we'd be a lot more competitive.

I just wondered if we could cope until then.

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The morning of the Thurrock match came round, and we had another loan signing to announce, with 19 year old Glasgow Rangers defender Ross Perry making the trip south to join his Ibrox colleague Stephen Forbes in Lincolnshire. He wouldn't be first choice, but was a far better option than the current back up.

Friendly

Thurrock vs Grimsby Town.

GK - Nick Colgan [C]

LB - Stephen Forbes

RB - Robbie Stockdale

CB - Rob Atkinson

CB - Ollie Lancashire

CM - Peter Sweeney

CM - Mark Hudson

AMC - Stephen Foley

AML - Louis-Georges Mongin

AMR - Ashley Chambers

CF - Paris Cowan-Hall

It was another tight match, this time opportunities being fewer in number than those in the Alfreton match, however, we received another injury, with Stephen Foley taking a late challenge from one of the Thurrock defenders. He was withdrawn when half time came, with Adam Proudlock taking over and moving up front instead of playing in the 'hole' behind the striker. It was annoying, as the luck we're having with injuries was beginning to take its toll. Ashley Chambers was also withdrawn, with Peter Bore coming on in his place.

The biggest bugbear that seemed to be coming from the preseason matches was our ability to create chances was upset by our ability to put them in the back of the net. It almost seemed like our strikers had got their boots on the wrong feet. One player that could be praised however, was Nick Colgan, the veteran keeper pulling off a double save after Ross Perry had been harshly adjudged to have committed a foul in the box.

For the third game, we failed to score, although, we had also kept our 2nd clean sheet of preseason, and for the second game on the trot, we'd suffered another injury blow, with Stephen Foley being diagnosed with a medial ligament strain, which would keep him out for the best part of a month, and mean that he would miss the start of the season.

Next up in tems of friendlies was the Glenn Hoddle Academy. There would only be one change to the side that started against Thurrock, and that was Angelos Tsiaklis coming in for the injured Foley, although he would be playing somewhat deeper than the Irishman.

The standard of opposition that we were up against was a step above that which the two previous opponents had offered, We were creating the better opportunities, and were controlling the GHA strikers, who offered a bit of a rougher ride than the Thurrock and Alfreton attacks.

The normal round of substitutions was made at half time, with the more tired players being replaced by fresher blood, and it was one of those substitutes that provided the breakthrough with just over 20 minutes to go, Adam Proudlock, who was providing a more physical presence than Cowan-Hall had done, managed to find a couple of yards of space in the box and slotted the ball past Tim Horn in the GHA goal. This lead was short lived however, as midfielder Adriano Moke hit a hopeful effort from the best part of 30 yards, and Colgan was unsighted as the ball whistled into the top corner.

There were chances for both sides as the game moved steadily on towards its conclusion, but in the third minute of injury time, Peter Bore, who had come on as a second half substitute for Ashley Chambers, broke lose on the right wing with only one aim, played a one-two with Adam Proudlock, who was relishing his rolé as the lone forward, and showing great composure, rounded the keeper to score an excellent winner.

It may have only been a friendly, but the effect on the teams confidence could make an immeasurable difference come the start of the season.

With the atmosphere still on a high after the late victory against the Glenn Hoddle Academy, a third member of the Glasgow Rangers youth setup made his way south of the border to gain experience, with 18 year old striker Archie Campbell coming in until the end of the season.

The third friendly of the week came round, with Bulgarian side Slavia Sofia being the visitors to Blundell Park.

Once again, there was only going to be a single change from the side that started against the Glenn Hoddle Academy, and that was Adam Proudlock coming in for Paris Cowan-Hall.

For once, the main aim of the fixture was to try and get a bit of experience into the side of playing against a more technically proficient side, which would be few and far between in League Two, but would be experienced in cup games and when we played the 'better' teams in the division. I was happy when we got in at half time with us only being one goal in deficit, which was what we deserved, having been cut through for the goal, but having defended stoutly for the rest of the half, it would have been harsh to have conceded more.

With about 15 minutes to go, the best chance of the game for us was produced from a seemingly inoccuous position on the right hand side, when Robbie Stockdale slipped the ball through to Tsiaklis about 30 yards out, and the young Cypriot ghosted past a couple of players before unleashing a shot which the keeper tipped onto the bar.

In the end, the game finished 1-0, which given the pre game predictions, was a good result for us.

We'd got one friendly left, then it was on to the real thing.

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Paperwork. Its the bane of most peoples lives.

This paperwork was no different. In the 3 weeks since I'd taken the job, I'd had countless letters from supporters all over the country, the majority wishing me luck in the job, but the odd one or two full of the sort of vitriolic hatred that I thought the game had left behind.

I was writing back to everyone who had been in touch, and that was the timeconsuming thing. It took my mind away from the job, and gave me an outlet for my frustrations, the majority of which were just put on paper and then thrown away when I'd finished.

We'd got one more friendly left to play, with Bristol Rovers coming to town, then 10 days off before the start of the season on August 8th against Cheltenham at Whaddon Road.

Attempts were made to bring in additional players on loan deals, although with the club already having the maximum amount of domestic long term deals [these had signed before I'd arrived at the club], the only ones available were on short term deals, or from outside the English leagues.

There were a couple of changes for the Bristol Rovers match, mainly to aid recovery of the players who had tired themselves out against Sofia, but otherwise, it was a near full strength side that took to the pitch.

As with the Sofia game, we spent a fair amount of time on the back foot, as we absorbed the pressure, but on the stroke of half time, Rovers striker Jo Kuffour was caught in possession, and Adam Proudlock left the keeper helpless to put us in front.

Just after half time, we were pegged back, as Steve Elliott got on the end of a corner to bring the visitors back on terms, but shortly after, Kuffour jumped on a defensive lapse from Ollie Lancashire and was pressured into putting his shot wide of the near post.

The game petered out as a 1-1 draw.

Should you wish to view highlights of the game, then please visit Mariners World

.

There was more signing news at full time, as we'd been speaking Glasgow Rangers for the majority of the previous week about getting more players in on loan from them, and we'd had an offer accepted for young midfielder Stephen Stirling. The 19 year old was highly rated at Ibrox, and joined until the end of the season.

The coming week was to be spent on planning for the Cheltenham game, with videos being watched by the coaching staff, who would pass on the information gleaned from them to the players.

There was another injury picked up on the Thursday, with Angelos Tsiaklis going down with a hernia after overstretching for a ball during a passing exercise, he'll be out for 8 weeks.

The positive side to this was that I was able to name my starting XI for the Cheltenham game on the Friday, which allowed the players to relax.

Matchday 1: - Cheltenham Town F.C. vs Grimsby Town F.C. - Whaddon Road Stadium, Cheltenham

Grimsby Town F.C. [4-5-1]

1. Nick Colgan [c]

2. Robbie Stockdale

23. Marco Pelosi

5. Oliver Lancashire [loan from Southampton]

25. Rob Atkinson

32. Mark Hudson

31. Drew Rhodes

6. Peter Sweeney

14. Peter Bore

27. Louis-Georges Mongin

9. Adam Proudlock

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35. Leigh Overton

17. Ross Perry [loan from Glasgow Rangers]

18. Stephen Forbes [loan from Glasgow Rangers]

38. Stephen Stirling [loan from Glasgow Rangers]

33. Ashley Chambers [loan from Leicester City]

10. Archie Campbell [loan from Glasgow Rangers

36. Tommy Wright

The game began as I wanted it to, absorbing the early pressure, before pushing forward and gaining a foothold in the middle of the pitch. After 13 minutes, the ball broke to Adam Proudlock in the Cheltenham area, who under pressure from their defenders, dropped his shoulder and put the ball into the top corner of the goal, leaving the keeper unable to get near it.

Marco Pelosi left the pitch just after the half hour mark with an injury, Scott Forbes coming on to replace him.

Forbes day got off to a bad start 5 minutes before half time, as he felled David Bird in the penalty area. Michael Townsend drilling the penalty down the middle to bring the scores level as half time approached. Half time 1-1

The second half got underway a lot like the first, with both teams testing the opposition, and Louis-Georges Mongin missing a couple of chances, skewing them wide when it was easier to score.

Halfway through the period, Mongin swung a corner in from the right hand side, Peter Bore got into open space swung his foot at the ball, and his shot went into the goal, via a deflection off a Cheltenham defender.

Cheltenham had one chance to equalise, the ball breaking to Josh Low on the left hand side of the penalty area, his shot getting beaten away by Colgan.

Archie Campbell and Stephen Stirling came on for their debuts with just over quarter of an hour left, and the former nearly opened his account with a header after excellent work from Mongin.

Full time came with an ovation from the visiting support, and a man of the match award to the débutant Frenchman, Mongin, who had set up one goal, and provided countless chances for his teammates.

Highlights -

Full time - Grimsby 2 - 1 Cheltenham.

The journey back to Grimsby was an enjoyable one, with Mongin sharing the champagne awarded for his man of the match, and he led a singing session as well, with a heavily accented version of Oasis' wonderwall being sung.

The atmosphere in the team was a good one, next up for us were Norwich, who had beaten Colchester 1-0 in their first game of the season, Darel Russell scoring their goal. We'd definitely have our hands full dealing with the Canaries.

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