With Taylor, Little and West all suspended for this fixture, the manager had no choice but to shuffle his pack. He opted to go for a 4-4-2, with McGregor, Cox, Gnohere and Branch along the back, I Moore and A. Moore on the right and left flank respectively, and Weller and Grant in midfield. Dimi Papadopoulos was given a rare chance to start up front alongside Robbie Blake.
And on a freezing Humberside afternoon, it was Burnley who were first out of the traps. On 3 minutes, Blake managed to get a shot away which looked destined for the back of the Mariners’ net until John McDermott got in the way to make a goal-line clearance.
For most of the opening ten minutes of the game, Burnley enjoyed the bulk of possession without actually creating much by the way of chances. But on 11 minutes following good work on the right, David Soames put in his manger Paul Groves. Beresford had to be out sharply to save at his feet. To be honest, that was just about Grimsby’s only decent move of the first half as the Clarets took the game by the scruff of the neck.
On 12 minutes, Blake forced goalkeeper Danny Coyne into a good save from his twenty-five yard free-kick. But he was helpless to prevent Burnley’s opener 60 seconds later. Picking up the ball in midfield, Tony Grant ran at the Grimsby defence, but looked to have overdone it when he was tackled on the edge of the area. Fortuitously, the ball broke to unmarked Alan Moore fifteen yards out on the left of the box. Moore advanced on goal and coolly slotted the ball beyond Coyne. It was no more than Burnley deserved.
Five minutes later, the Clarets all but had one foot in the fourth round. Ian Moore’s shot was parried away by Danny Coyne, but only as far as Paul Weller on the edge of the area. The midfielder tried his luck, and possibly with the aid of a deflection the visitor’s had doubled their lead. "We want six!" came the cry from the Burnley supporters.
Burnley continued to hold the upper hand for the rest of the half, but had to battle hard in midfield against a Grimsby side who were showing signs of waking up. Instrumental in the Clarets midfield tussle was Paul Weller. It was then unfortunate that the scorer of Burnley’s second goal had to be replaced through injury ten minutes before the break by a not fully fit Paul Cook. Still Burnley saw out the remainder of the half, and the interval was spent either discussing who you fancied in the next round or hoping we could hold on, depending on how optimistic you were feeling.
On 55 minutes they paid for it when referee Graham Laws awarded a penalty to Grimsby. As it was at the other end of the ground, it was difficult to see what the infringement was. Grimsby’s players certainly didn’t see one, as they didn’t even appeal for a spot-kick. Still, at 2-0 down the Mariners were not about to look a gift horse in the mouth and Cooke grabbed the lifeline with both hands, sending Beresford the wrong way.
Buoyed by the penalty, Grimsby were well in the ascendancy. Burnley were rapidly going to pieces with Cook and Blake having a shouting match at one point. On 68 minutes Marlon had to be in top form beating away Cooke’s shot. Paul Groves made a complete hash of the rebound and the slender lead remained in tact.
But sensing an equaliser, Grimsby continues to push forward. In the 83rd minute, Grimsby won their first corner and Chris Thompson flashed a header wide. The warning was not heeded. Five minutes later, rangy striker Darren Mansaram picked up the ball on the right edge of Burnley’s box. Our defenders stood and watched in admiration as he waltzed to the other side of the box and got the ball onto his left foot.
Mansaram shot. To be honest, his effort was pretty feeble and as it bobbled towards Beresford it looked a routine save all the way. Yet somehow Marlon managed to get to it and let it in at the same time. It really should have been a simple stop. In fairness to the goalkeeper he was entitled to expect better protection from those in front of him, rather than seeing his defenders impersonating statues.
And so it was a disconsolate set of Burnley supporters who filed out of Blundell Park. Sure, we were happy to be in the fourth round draw, but when our name is drawn out there really shouldn’t be, "or Grimsby" tagged onto the end of it…