Saturday, 23 March 2002
Nationwide League Division 1
Blundell Park
Attendance: 6,473
Ref: Paul Rejer
Grimsby Town
Alan Pouton (3), Michael Boulding (3)
6 (2) - (2) 2
Neil Shipperley, Patrick Agyemang
Danny Coyne
Danny Butterfield
John McDermott
Paul Groves
Andy Todd
Tony Gallimore
Stuart Campbell
Stacy Coldicott
Subbed 87m
Alan Pouton
Goal 45m Goal 72m Goal 85m
Bradley Allen
Subbed 90m
Michael Boulding
Goal 31m Goal 85m Goal 87m Subbed 87m
Wayne Burnett
Sub (16 87m)16
Steve Crousdon
Phil Jevons
Sub (35 87m)35
Jonathan Rowan
Sub (19 90m)19
Simon Ford

Grimsby gave their survival hopes a massive shot in the arm as they moved clear of the relegation zone with a scintillating second-half show against Wimbledon.

The hosts seemed to be heading for defeat after Neil Shipperley and then Patrick Agyemang had twice put Wimbledon ahead.

But sensational hat-tricks for Alan Pouton and Michael Boulding ensured that the hosts produced the comeback that could save their season.

Wimbledon went into the game without suspended striker David Connolly and so Shipperley was pushed forward to start up front.

After just six minutes Shipperley carved out the first chance on goal as he blasted wide from Agyemang's cross.

Having settled quickly, Wimbledon continued to press and two minutes later Trond Andersen fired a long-range pile-driver over the bar before, after 17 minutes, Damien Francis' shot forced Pouton to hack clear.

Grimsby were struggling to string passes together and it took them until the 19th minute to offer their first threat on goal, but Paul Groves' right-footed curler flew over.

But it was the Dons who always looked the more dangerous and after 23 minutes it was no surprise when Shipperley made the breakthrough.

Neal Ardley was the architect with a surging run down the left and when he crossed dangerously into the box, the former Barnsley forward rose unmarked to head home.

Having grabbed the lead, Wimbledon began to step up the pace but they were stung by a swift Grimsby counter-attack eight minutes later.

After a neat exchange of passes with Danny Butterfield in midfield, Bradley Allen broke away down the right and when he squared back across the box, Boulding was on hand to thump the ball home from eight yards.

As half-time approached, Wimbledon piled forward again in a bid to reassert their dominance and after 41 minutes they were back in front when Kevin Cooper's corner from the left was headed home by Agyemang.

But Grimsby continued to battle and on the stroke of the interval they hauled themselves level again when John McDermott crossed for Pouton to drill home.

After the break, it was the hosts who came out with greater purpose and they were unlucky not to go ahead after 59 minutes when Pouton crossed to the near post and Groves thumped his header against the woodwork.

The home side were now dominating and only a fine save from goalkeeper Ian Feuer denied Groves again three minutes later before Tony Gallimore blasted a long distance effort over the bar.

After 72 minutes however, Grimsby's determination finally paid dividends when Boulding's surge into the box was halted by a crude challenge from Francis and Pouton stepped up to slot home the resulting penalty.

And having grabbed the lead, Grimsby moved through the gears in the closing stages to wrap up the points in sensational style.

Any hopes of a Wimbledon fightback disappeared after 80 minutes when goalkeeper Feuer was sent off for halting Boulding's charge on goal.

Pouton seemed to have let the Dons off the hook when he missed the resulting penalty but the referee ordered the kick to be retaken for encroachment and with the second attempt, the midfielder made no mistake to seal his hat-trick.

But there was still time for the hosts to run riot and Boulding sent the home fans wild with delight as he slotted home from the edge of the box.

Just a minute later he drilled home again to complete his hat-trick and pile on the misery for Wimbledon.