Grimsby running out of games to stay in the EFL
An almighty battle of the basement clubs in the EFL is set to take place on Tuesday evening. League Two new boys (after being absent for a number of decades) Barrow have struggled to adjust to life back in the fourth tier after decades in the non-league wilderness, but have recently rallied under caretaker manager Rob Kelly, winning the last four on the bounce to first emerge from, and then later, put clear daylight between them and the two relegation places. The visitors to Holker Street, Grimsby Town, have just a single win in 2021, but have at least avoided defeat in their previous quartet of fixtures with a series of draws. However, the Mariners are now at the stage where they need to go for broke to avoid the drop. Read our preview here:
Taylor-made to keep them at arm's length
The Bluebirds kept up their winning streak at the weekend, claiming victory deep into injury time to best Crawley Town 3-2. Goals have never been the issue for the Cumbria outfit; additionally, considering their low standing in the league, their difference is also very healthy, standing at -2. Kelly also has the twin luxuries of being in post until the close season, making this like an audition for the permanent gig, as well as having games in hand on the three sides beneath them in the fourth tier. Even a draw tomorrow evening would be an excellent outcome, but they have players in their ranks to go one better than that. Bristol Rovers loanee Tom Davies has been a cut above marshalling the back three from the centre with some aplomb; tall striker Scott Quigley has managed to bag nine in the league, and destroys the stereotype of his stature by being both quick and preferring the ball to feet; moreover, the two Taylors ensconced in the five-man midfield are capable of running the show against their opponents - while both are in the autumn of their careers at 34, they blend well with their different strengths to ensure a semblance of control and tactical flexibility on a game. The latter is most certainly an asset to a team still in 21st in the bottom division.
Would you Adams and eve it?
Meanwhile, the returning figure of Paul Hurst has not been able to shake the malaise in Cleethorpes, and the classic combination of not scoring enough whilst shipping far too many have resulted in their propping up the fourth tier. 22nd placed Colchester United, the last team above the relegation zone, are locked on the same number of points as Tuesday's opponents, and the Mariners' vastly inferior goal difference in comparison to them and Barrow effectively means the gap to safety is actually 11 points with 10 matches left to play. Realistically, seven wins are required, but not a single individual in their current squad has tucked home more than a pathetic three in domestic competition. The focal points of the visitors' approach on Tuesday should be down the flanks - perm two from the trio of Ira Jackson Jr., Julien Lamy, and Brentford loanee Joe Adams, and there is at least the prospect of some individual magic. Additionally, they have the figure of the seldom prolific but sometimes effective Lenell John-Lewis to aim crosses for, and whilst it's a predictable tactic in a 4-4-2 formation, it can still be one that pays dividends.
No glee in Cleethorpes
Realistically, both Southend United and Grimsby are all but down; only a dramatic reversal of fortunes for both of those clubs can change that. Hurst's men have at least not tasted defeat for a while, but must now use that fact to take the game to their opponents, starting on Tuesday. Pragmatism won't win the day, and despite everything, their better players are now in attacking or at least creative areas. Barrow, meanwhile, have developed a taste for winning at an auspicious time, and can afford to be conservative when setting their stall out. Nevertheless, bet365 have the hosts at odds of 3.10 to be winning the game at both half-time and the final whistle.