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Sunday, May 24, 1998 Published at 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK

Sport: Football

Grimsby bounce back to Division 1
image: [ Grimsby Town's players celebrate at Wembley ]
Grimsby Town's players celebrate at Wembley

Grimsby have bounced back into Division 1 at the first time of asking after their victory in the Second Division play-off final over Northampton Town.

Their stay in the second division lasted for just a season.

The BBC's Dave Woods at Wembley: "Proof that you can play your way out of Division Two"
Grimsby striker Kevin Donovan made sure it was a season to remember for the Mariners when he scored the only goal of the match at Wembley stadium.

The Mariners had waited 120 years to reach Wembley and ended this season with both promotion and the Auto Windscreens Shield under their belts.

Grimsby manager Alan Buckley's side took the initiative from the Cobblers after just 20 minutes.

Donovan collected a through ball from Wayne Burnett and within seconds he had calmly rounded Northampton keeper Andy Woodman to leave the travelling Mariners' fans cheering at Wembley for the second time this year.

The first 45 minutes was characterised by some scrappy play as both Grimsby and Northampton looked under pressure.

But the northern Lincolnshire side were the first to settle and could have doubled the lead three minutes after Donovan's goal when Jack Lester shot wide with only Woodman to beat.

[ image: Chris Freestone shoots for the Cobblers]
Chris Freestone shoots for the Cobblers
Northampton rarely troubled the Town goal with Chris Freestone having their only chance.

They returned after the second half with more determination and could have levelled the score twice in two minutes.

However Grimsby remained the more creative of the two sides in front of a crowd of almost 70,000.

Promotion appeared to be guaranteed when Jack Lester was brought down in the penalty box.

But Kevin Donovan failed to convert the chance for his second goal of the day when his shot was saved by Woodman.

Speaking after the match, Alan Buckley said: "Anybody who says they enjoy play-offs aren't football managers.

"When the 90 minutes were up and the referee said there were another six minutes to play, I wouldn't wish that on anyone."

Northampton manager Ian Atkins said his team had lost out in crucial decisions, saying he believed the goal should not have been allowed.

He added: "If you get a decision against you in these games it can kill you."

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