It’s been a long old season hasn’t it? Forty-five games, seventy goals, and more ups and downs than a day at Alton Towers.
The Amber Rollercoaster has one more twist to take – will we finish the season a giddy first, or a devastating fourth, or somewhere in between? It’s a three-way shoot out for the last two promotion spots on Saturday, and a two way fight for the title. Cheltenham, already promoted, are in pole position, and a win at home to Harrogate will see them crowned champions. We know from bitter, bitter experience that Harrogate are no pushovers, and any dropped points will see the title go to United if (and it’s a big if, if we’re honest) we beat Grimsby. Meanwhile, Morecambe have the most to do, needing to better Bolton’s result to take the last automatic place. If both those two win and we lose, then they’ll go up at our expense, leaving United to face the lottery of the playoffs…
With the exception of long-term absentees Dimitar Mitov, Leon Davies and Harvey Knibbs Mark Bonner has a full strength side to pick from. That will mean Callum Burton in goal, with Kyle Knoyle on the right. Greg Taylor will be one of the central defenders but we suspect he’ll likely be partnered by Jubril Okedina after Declan Drysdale’s poor showing at Harrogate. The left back position has been Jack Iredale’s recently, but we think he’ll drop out for Harrison Dunk.
The midfield poses the biggest question, will Bonner stick with a diamond or go to a flat midfield four? Either way we think Paul Digby will retain his place despite a difficult game at Harrogate, and Wes Hoolahan is a given. That leaves two spaces to fill from Hiram Boateng, Liam O’Neil, Luke Hannant and Adam May. Despite some inconsistent performances this season Hannant seems to be a favourite of Bonner, and Hiram Boateng will be the most likely central midfield option, although don’t be surprised if O’Neil or May come in for a bit of stability.
Expected U’s Line-Up: Burton, Knoyle, Taylor, Okedina, Dunk, Digby, Hannant, Boateng, Hoolahan, Mullin, Ironside
Up front it will be Mullin and Ironside, both looking to add to their impressive goal tallies for the season.
Who’s Their Player To Watch? It’s been a poor season for Grimsby, culminating with their relegation from the League a few weeks ago. They’re currently bottom of the table but they won’t want to finish there, a win could see them move above Southend United to 23rd. Lenell John-Lewis has looked pretty good this season and will be worth keeping an eye on.
Who’s In The Dugout? Paul Hurst is in his second spell at Blundell Park, having previously led Grimsby to promotion from the Conference in 2016.
What’s Their Recent Form Like? P5, W3, D0, L2, For 7, Against 8
Any Ex-United Players? Idris El Mizouni was on loan there earlier this season, but he suffered an injury in March which ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.
Last Time Out: Grimsby 1-2 U’s, 2 January 2021
A thunderbolt from Adam May and a rocket from Paul Mullin saw the U’s run out 2-1 winners in our first match of 2021.
From The Archive: Grimsby 0-0 U’s, 19 August 1989
A trip way back in the archive here, we visit Blundell Park on a sunny August Saturday to start a season that would end in both teams being promoted, Grimsby as runners-up, United via the Playoffs.
UTAS Moosenet Tip: 1-0 United, we don’t really care who scores, but it would be nice if Dunk was one of them wouldn’t it?