Mariners are in for a Grim night at Elland Road
Grimsby Town couldn't have asked a tougher tie in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy as they face on-form Leeds United at Elland Road for a place in the area semi-finals.
To make matters worse for Town, they go into the game without a manager and on the back of an embarrassing FA Cup exit to the hands of Bath City, and the result was no fluke either as Bath outplayed their opponents from the off and fully deserved their win.
That was Grimsby's fourth defeat in their last five games; the other match was a draw which was rescued in the 95th minute; if a new manager doesn't come in and shake things up soon then Town could be heading for their first experience of non-league football.
That's a worry for another day though and the Mariners can go out and play without fear in this particular game, as no one is expecting them to take anything from West Yorkshire; indeed only two teams have won at Elland Road since the turn of the year, and one of them was Liverpool.
It makes backing against Leeds almost impossible as Simon Grayson will be picking from a good pool of players after no new injury problems were discovered from their FA Cup success at Oldham, only another suspension was picked up as midfielder Michael Doyle got his fifth yellow card of the season and he will join striker Tresor Kandol in being banned for the tie.
The side that Grayson sends out is difficult to predict though, as while several reserve players will be itching to be involved, the Whites don't play another league fixture for 11 days following next Saturday's game being postponed due to international call-ups, so the players that have been playing so well recently might retain their place as continuity is a great thing in football.
I would expect some changes to be made though, Jermaine Beckford (who's 9/2 to strike first) will more than likely be rested as he's the player United can't afford to be without for the more important task at hand of getting out of League 1, Leeds' wide men Bradley Johnson and Robert Snodgrass are also vital parts of the promotion push and I'd be surprised if they were to be involved; loan signing Max Gradel and Andy Robinson, who is returning from injury, would be the candidates to step in to the breach should 'Larry' rotate his team.
Even with backup players likely to be involved Leeds still look to be fully justified in their price of 2/7, and with the goals that they have been firing in recently as well I'd take a look at 3-0 and 4-0 on offer at 7/1 and 12/1 respectively. The draw is a 7/2 chance, while caretaker manager Neil Woods' Grimsby are 7/1 shots to claim an unlikely victory.
With Beckford likely to sit out, Leeds will pick two out of the following three; Sam Vokes (9/2 to open the scoring), Enoch Showumni (5/1) and Mike Grella (11/2), who scored on the weekend against Oldham; but I like the look of Robinson at 9/1, when the winger is involved he takes most of the set pieces and could prove good value to get the first in this game, like he did in United's last JPT clash, he's 10/3 to hit the back of the net at any stage of the night.
Grimsby could start with Barry Conlon after he grabbed a vital equaliser in a recent league match against Accrington, the journeyman has a fine scoring record since moving to Blundell Park and is a real threat in the air, should the Mariners get plenty of balls in the box the Irishman could look a steal at 10/1 to grab the opener, 7/2 at anytime is also worth a shout.
Peter Sweeney opened the scoring in Grimsby's last JPT match and the midfielder will be desperate to get one over his former employers, with four goals to his name he looks tempting at 16/1 to notch the first of the match, 6/1 to pounce at any point of the 90 minutes.
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