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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 April, 2003, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Grimsby 1-4 Crystal Palace

Grimsby face an uphill struggle to avoid relegation from Division One after an impressive Crystal Palace side claimed three deserved points at Blundell Park.

The damage was done in the first half as goals from Wayne Routledge, Noel Whelan and Julian Gray earned Trevor Francis' men an almost unassailable lead at the break.

Grimsby - who have won just five games at home all season - battled back bravely in the second half and Steve Chettle's 48th-minute header gave the home side hope.

But the Eagles maintained their composure and Dougie Freedman added a fourth at the death to leave the Mariners rock-bottom with just four games remaining.

Grimsby began the game brightly, but the visitors slowly edged their way into the game and somewhat against the run of play, opened the scoring after 18 minutes.

The goal inspired Francis' men as a shell-shocked Grimsby side had to withstand a sustained spell of intensive pressure.

Grimsby supporters had barely time to reflect on their side being two goals down before Gray took advantage of some more hapless defending with a neat left-footed finish from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

The home side dragged themselves back into the contest with a goal two minutes after half-time.

An inswinging cross from Stuart Campbell on the left byline found Chettle who made no mistake with a sweet header from 10 yards.

But Palace continued to test Grimsby's shaky defence and Freedman latched on to a precise delivery to rifle the ball into the top corner of the net from 18 yards a minute before referee Graham Laws called time.

Grimsby: Coyne, McDermott, Ford, Chettle, Gallimore, Campbell, Bolder, Groves, Keane, Boulding, Mansaram. Subs: Thompson, Parker, Livingstone, Soames, Cooke.

Crystal Palace: Kolinko, Butterfield, Powell, Popovic, Borrowdale, Routledge, Mullins, Thomson, Gray, Whelan, Adebola. Subs: Berthelin, Freedman, Black, Watson, Hunt.

Referee: G Laws (Tyne & Wear)



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