PREVIEW: Grimsby Town v Luton Town
The Mariners have gone seven games without defeat, picking up three wins and four draws in the process.
It’s the draws that have stopped Grimsby from really staking their claim in the early stages of the campaign as they are ninth in the table having been held in five of their nine games, with only one defeat thus far, that at home to Stockport County.
The good start for the Mariners is no mean feat when star striker Liam Hearn was ruled out for several months after rupturing his Achilles.
Hearn bagged 27 goals for Grimsby last season, with four hat-tricks in the process too, leaving Grimsby with a major hole in their attacking ranks.
It is upfront when Town have struggled most as a 4-1 hammering of Mansfield aside, they have notched just seven goals in their other eight games.
They are on a run of three without defeat on home soil though beating Forest Green Rovers and drawing with Nuneaton.
Grimsby made it their aim to add Football League and Conference experience to their ranks during the summer and they did just then with some battle-hardened signings including former defender Simon Ford from Chesterfield, alongside the likes of Sam Hatton, Aswad Thomas and Andy Cook.
Burton striker Greg Pearson has been brought in to score the goals, while midfielder Derek Niven was probably the stand out addition with the 28-year-old Scotsman having made over 250 appearances for Chesterfield during his career.
Nathan Pond has also joined on loan from Fleetwood after player more than 300 times for the Cod Army and had a major role in their promotion to the Football League last year.
Joint bosses Paul Hurst and Rob Scott further bolstered their squad this week, signing Crawley Town winger Scott Neilson on a three month loan deal.
Neilson, 25, scored the winner against Accrington Stanley to send the Red Devils into League One and is expected to go straight into the squad for tonight’s game.
Meanwhile, Bradford City striker Ross Hannah has moved to Town on a three month deal, with the 26-year-old netting 52 goals in a season for Matlock Town before his switch to Valley Parade.
Town did lose Michael Coulson to York, while the likes of Charlie I’Anson, Serge Makofo and Manny Panther were among a number who were released,
Team news: Jake Howells is expected to be fit after coming off against Wrexham with concussion last week, but boss Paul Buckle has admitted changes will be made after an injury in training this week.
Danny Spiller, James Dance and Garry Richards are all out for the Hatters.
Man in the middle: Peter Bankes – official has been in charge for three matches this season, showing two yellow cards, but hasn’t taken a Conference game since the 1-1 draw between Gateshead and Lincoln City on August 27.
Top BSBP scorer: Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (7). Mariners - Greg Pearson, Nathan Pond, Antony Elding (2).
In charge: Rob Scott and Paul Hurst - The duo are now in their third job together after previously managing Ilkeston Town and Boston United, before being appointed Grimsby bosses on March 23, 2011.
As a player, Scott had spells in the League at Sheffield United, Northampton Town, Fulham and Oldham Athletic amongst others.
Hurst played almost his entire career for Riotherham, making over 400 appearances, before hanging up his boots in 2008.
When in charge of Ilkeston, they won promotion to the Converence North via the play-offs, a feat they replicated when at Boston, while also winning the Northern Premier League Challenge Cup and Lincolnshire Senior Cup.
View from the opposition: Joint boss Rob Scott -“We wanted to start well, of course we did. We wanted to come out and win the first nine games but that’s not always going to be achievable and nobody’s done it in our league.
“We’d prefer to start slow and pick up pace, rather than go the other way, where you see teams having a great start and then fall away.
“If you’re winning your home games and then drawing away, picking up an average of two points a game through the season, then you’ve got a great chance of promotion.
“We’re happy where we are at the moment but we know we can get better, so that bodes well.”
One to watch: Greg Pearson -Striker who joined Grimsby this year after ending a four year spell at Burton Albion.
Well versed at Conference level, scoring 18 goals for Burton when they won the Blue Square Bet Premier in the 2008-09 season and followed that up with 14 strikes in League Two the following year.
The former West Ham trainee has never found his best form since then, and was loaned to Aldershot last year, but failed to find the net for the Shots in six games, although he did score three in nine with a similar spell at Crewe Alexandra.
Already opened his account for the Mariners with two in the 4-1 triumph over Mansfield Town.
We’ve got form: Ask any Hatters fan and they will tell you they never win at Grimsby, but that hasn’t always been the case.
In fact, Town started off life well with a 3-1 win way back when the teams met in an old Second Division affair in 1898.
In total, Luton have won six, drawn seven and lost 10 of their 23 visits to Blundell Park, although it has been the scene of some serious hidings.
Twice Town have shipped five, letting in six once and even going down 7-1 in an FA Cup tie when Lenny Lawrence was in charge on January 6, 1996, when Dwight Marshall netted a scant consolation.
Those goals means Grimsby have scored 46 times against Town on home soil, with Hatters managing just 24 in response.
Last time out: Hatters ended an almost 14-year period with a win at Blundell Park last season, thanks to Tommy Wright’s second half strike.
The forward popped up to head the winner after 73 minutes in a game that was also played live in front of the Permier Sports cameras on a Friday night.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, George Pilkington, Jake Howells, Curtis Osano, Jamie Hand, Janos Kovacs, Robbie Willmott (John Paul Kissock 78), James Dance (Aaron O’Connor 67), Stuart Fleetwood (Danny Crow 87), Adam Watkins, Tommy Wright.
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