Date: 6th August 2016 at 5:05pm
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It was a big day at Blundell Park on Saturday for Grimsby Town and all their supporters as they hosted Morecambe in their first Football League game after six years in the non-league wilderness. The visitors arrived as early (and it must be said perennial) favourites for relegation hoping to confound the bookies yet again in their tenth season as a League club.

Morecambe – with latest signings Rhys Turner on the bench and Michael Rose thrown straight in at the deep end – held out for a whole six minutes before Kayden Jackson found the back of the net with a shot from the centre of the penalty area after an attempt from James Berrett was initially blocked. The home team could have gone further ahead just two minutes later when Scott Vernon`s shot beat Barry Roche again in the Morecambe goal only for Aaron McGowan to brilliantly clear the ball off the line. As the League returnees continued to dominate play, the always dangerous Barnsley loanee Jackson tried his luck from 15 yards after a quarter of an hour but his shot went just wide. Morecambe`s first effort fell to Aaron Wildig shortly afterwards but his long-range shot from 30 yards went just over the bar. Although the Mariners continued to dominate the play, the Shrimps came into the game a bit more as the minutes ticked by. With strike partner Jack Dunn looking lively, Tom Barkhuizen tried his luck after 35 minutes but then squandered a golden opportunity to equalise when played in by a poor back pass just three minutes later but seemed to be caught in two minds at the crucial moment: James McKeown saved brilliantly with his feet.

With Cole Stockton replacing the injured Aaron Wildig at half time, Morecambe set about becoming Party Poopers in the second half – and failed. Ben Davies extended Town`s lead after 63 minutes when he curled a free-kick from all of 30 yards into the top corner of the net and out of the reach of a despairing Roche`s right hand. They could have gone even further ahead when the Shrimps` goalkeeper flapped at a corner and Jackson`s header was cleared off the line after 67 minutes. Referee Mark Heywood put in his fourpence worth to help the Mariners win their first game back in the big time when he failed to give a penalty to Morecambe after Kevin Ellison was clearly fouled in the area after 70 minutes. Just to confuse matters still further, the referee sent Josh Gowling off for the offence, however. After this, the Mariners simply tried to hold on to their lead with ten men and although McKeown was booked for time-wasting, they finally succeeded.

It`s far too early to judge the quality of either Grimsby or Morecambe on this showing. Jim Bentley must be worried that the string of defeats which his team endured at the end of last season has continued in the new one. Grimsby were unquestionably the better team today but they were probably buoyed by a large crowd and the excitement of being back in the League. Everyone will probably have a better idea of what lies ahead for them this time next week – when Morecambe entertain southern neighbours Blackpool for the first time at the Globe in a League game of any sort.

Grimsby Town: 1 James McKeown (Y); 2 Ben Davies; 6 Josh Gowling (R); 20 Andrew Boyce; 3 Danny Andrew; 16 James Berrett; 19 Luke Summerfield; 4 Sean McAllister; 18 Tom Bolarinwa (Y) (5 Shaun Pearson 72 minutes); 21 Scott Vernon (9 Omar Bogle 72 minutes); 14 Kayden Jackson (7 Ashley Chambers 86 minutes).
Subs: 24 Andy Warrington; 10 Dominic Vose; 11 Rhys Browne; 23 Dan Jones.
Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 3 Aaron McGowan; 16 Alex Whitmore; 5 Ryan Edwards; 2 Liam Wakefield (10 Lee Molyneux 75 minutes); 24 Michael Rose; 17 Andy Fleming; 15 Aaron Wildig (23 Cole Stockton 45 minutes); 9 Tom Barkhuizen; 11 Kevin Ellison; 20 Jack Dunn (18 Rhys Turner, 61 minutes).
Subs: 12 Dan Nizic; 4 Alex Kenton; 7 Paul Mullin; 14 Luke Conlan.
Ref: Mark Heywood.