Football: Croudson keeps out Wolves

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The Independent Online
Grimsby Town 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

IF THIS experienced and expensively assembled Wolves side is condemned on Sunday to yet another season in the First Division they will remember the debut of Grimsby's 19-year-old homegrown rookie goalkeeper Steve Croudson.

He defied almost constant pressure and the return as a second-half substitute of the former England striker Steve Bull to deny Wolves the three points they needed to lift them into the play-off frame.

They must now overcome second-placed Bradford City at Molineux and rely on one of the other runners in this five-horse race stumbling to keep their promotion hopes alive.

Although Grimsby believed they should have had a first-half penalty when Jack Lester went down in the area under challenge, their contribution to the game was a determined defensive display in which Croudson played the starring role.

He made a succession of point-blank saves from Havard Flo, Robbie Keane and Neil Emblen, plucked crosses out of the air when he safely could and punched them confidently away when he could not.

He was well protected by a tightly organised Grimsby side which fell back in increasing numbers when Wolves' pressure increased as the match ebbed from their grasp.

The Wolves manager, Colin Lee, said: "We pinned them back in the second half and I could not have asked for more from the players but it was one of those matches when the ball simply wouldn't go in. But it is not over yet. We feel we can beat Bradford on Sunday."

Bull's appearance as a substitute for Flo after his long-term knee injury briefly raised the spirits of the travelling Wolves' support but an Emblen free-kick which deflected off the wall and came back off a post, and a Flo header that drifted tantalising wide of an upright were the nearest Wolves came to breaking the deadlock.

Grimsby's rare excursions out of their own half gave the Wolves goalkeeper Mike Stowell a couple of opportunities to compete with Croudson, blocking a Daryl Clare shot with his body and smothering the ball at Lester's feet as it bounced dangerously round his area.

But Wolves are now hoping for a repeat performance from Croudson on Sunday when Grimsby travel to Watford, one of the clubs who must drop points if the back door to the Premiership is not to slam shut on the Midlanders once again.

Grimsby Town (4-4-2): Croudson; Butterfield, Burnett, Handyside, Gallimore; Donovan, Coldicott, Groves, Black; Clare, Lester. Substitutes not used: Bloomer, Buckley, Chapman.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Stowell; Muscat, Richards, Curle, Gilkes; Robinson (Simpson, 69), Emblen, Sedgley, Osborn; Flo (Bull, 57), Keane (Corica, 79).

Referee: G Frankland (Middlesbrough).

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