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BBC Sport's Nick Mullins
"Any team that beats the champions deserves to stay up"
 real 14k

Sunday, 6 May, 2001, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Gutsy Grimsby stay up
Fulham's Lee Clark and Grimsby's Menno Willems
Clark comes under pressure from Willems
Grimsby 1-0 Fulham

Grimsby made sure of their Division One status next season with a priceless win over champions Fulham at Blundell Park.

Skipper Paul Groves' 25-yard grass-cutter on 26 minutes was enough to give the Mariners all three points.

It is a major achievement for a club of this size to stay in this division
Grimsby boss Lennie Lawrence

And boss Lennie Lawrence can now can breathe a huge sigh of relief after surviving yet another relegation dog-fight.

Fulham started brightly and Luis Boa Morte had the first clear chance when he muscled his way in front of the home defence and flashed a 15-yard shot across Danny Coyne's goal.

Grimsby's on-loan midfielder Stuart Campbell tested Marcus Hahnemann with a well-struck volley from Steve Livingstone's cross.

But not for the first time this season, the pace of Boa Morte and Louis Saha was causing massive problems for the Grimsby defence.

Fulham's Louis Saha (front) challenged by Grimsby Town's Paul Raven
Saha challenged by Raven

Saha should have done better when he broke free down the middle but Coyne blocked the striker's first effort and the former Metz man could not find the target with an awkward follow-up.

Grimsby broke the deadlock and settled Lawrence's nerves on 26 minutes with a rather fortuitous opener.

Skipper Groves scored with a 25-yard shot that somehow managed to go through the goalkeeper's legs.

The goal is not one that the American stopper - who has spent much of the season keeping the bench warm - will want to see again, coming after a similar slice of misfortune against Sheffield Wednesday on the day Fulham won the title.

We were determined to do well but too many of our players didn't perform to their capabilities
Fulham skipper Andy Melville

As the first half progressed, Fulham looked the more dangerous and posed the greater attacking threat.

Indeed Bjarne Goldbaek blasted over from the edge of the box after Saha's close control had provided the Dane with a chance to level.

After the interval Jean Tigana's Premiership-bound outfit pressed for the equaliser and enjoyed the better possession and play.

Sean Davies went close with a free-kick which Coyne saved.

While at the other end, Livingstone should have put the game beyond doubt for the Mariners.

But Groves' solitary strike meant the champagne could start flowing at Blundell Park as Grimsby look forward to another season in Division One.

Grimsby: Coyne, McDermott, Gallimore, Raven, Groves, Butterfield, Donovan, Livingstone, Pouton, Campbell, Willems. Subs: Hyldgaard, Jeffrey, David Smith, Burnett, Allen.

Fulham: Hahnemann, Finnan, Melville, Goma, Phelan, Goldbaek, Clark, Davis, Stolcers, Boa Morte, Saha. Subs: Taylor, Symons, Betsy, Trollope, Hayles.

Referee: P Rejer (Tipton)

Links to more Eng Div 1 stories are at the foot of the page.


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