GRIMSBY TOWN 1 (Black) FULHAM 1 (Finnan) | Saturday 21 August 1999 | Football League Division One | 6,196
Alan Buckley’s Grimsby Town side earned a creditable 1-1 draw against a star-studded Fulham side at Blundell Park.
Former England International Paul Bracewell named a strong Cottagers’ side for the trip to the East Coast. Amongst the Fulham ranks were new signings Lee Clark and Stan Collymore, seven-figure transfers in the shape of Chris Coleman and Paul Peschisolido, as well as Arsenal loanee Stephen Hughes.
In contrast, Buckley named just one of his summer signings in his starting XI, Welsh goalkeeper Danny Coyne. Striker Bradley Allen and midfielder Alan Pouton having to be content with positions on the bench.
Indeed, eight of the Mariners’ starting lineup had been on the books the last time the two teams met at Blundell Park. Kevin Donovan scoring in May 1998 to send Town through to the Division Two play-off final at Wembley. The night was one of the most memorable in the old ground’s history.
But it was the visitors who started the better on an overcast afternoon in Cleethorpes. A defensive mixup at the back allowed full back Steve Finnan to nip in and give the London side the lead on just four minutes.
Then it started to unravel for the Cottagers. Collymore was taken off on just eleven minutes to be replaced by Kevin Betsy. And, in the 34th-minute, Hughes was forced off – his place taken by former Mariner Paul Trollope.
That instability allowed the Mariners to get a foothold back in the game. They deservedly drew level before the break. A neat move down the right side ended with a deep cross to the far post, where Kingsley Black was on hand to score with a low volley.
The Cottagers regained the momentum at the start of the second period. They enjoyed plenty of the ball, without really troubling Coyne in the home goal.
Buckley’s response was to bring Pouton into the fray on 63 minutes. The midfielder replaced striker Lee Ashcroft. The extra man in midfield began to tell as the North Easterner’s robust style unsettled the visitors.
That frustration boiled over in the 81st minute when Clark was dismissed for a clash with Lester in front of the home fans.
The young striker, who was booked for his part in that incident, followed the former Newcastle and Sunderland midfielder into an early bath just three minutes later. The Yorkshireman going in late on Chris Coleman for second bookable offence.
With both sides reduced to ten men, the game petered out into a draw in front of over 6,000 fans in Blundell Park. The result left the Mariners still looking for their first league win of the campaign.
Mariners | Coyne; McDermott, R Smith, Lever, D Smith; Donovan, Coldicott, Groves, Black; Lester, Ashcroft (Pouton). Subs not used: Butterfield, Livingstone, Croudson, Allen.
Cottagers | Taylor; Finnan, Coleman, Morgan, Melville, Brevett; Hughes (Trollope), Clark, Davis; Collymore (Betsy (Hayward)), Peschisolido. Subs not used: Hahnemann, Symons.