Football: Grimsby add to Pleat's woes

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday 3

Grimsby Town 2

Grimsby win 4-3 on aggregate

Wednesday's troubled season took a turn for the worse when they were pitched out of the Coca-Cola Cup last night by opponents who lie 20th in the Second Division of the Nationwide League, a defeat that increases the pressure on their manager, David Pleat.

Although the Italian striker Paolo Di Canio struck a late goal - his second - to give Wednesday victory on the night, Grimsby had put themselves in an effectively unassailable position by scoring twice in three minutes at the start of the second half to earn a home tie against the holders, Leicester City, in the third round.

Grimsby's mission had initially been to defend their 2-0 first-leg lead, but they were forced into a rethink after Wednesday went ahead with a bizarre own goal. Running on to Di Canio's clever pass, Mark Pembridge tried to find Carbone but his cross was deflected, critically in the event, by Mark Lever, striking the goalkeeper Aidan Davison on the shoulder and, after further contact with Davison and a post, coming to rest in the Grimsby net.

Grimsby, who conceded seven in the FA Cup on their last visit to Hillsborough, in January, deserved better luck after thoroughly outplaying their Premiership opponents at Blundell Park last month.

Once in front, however, Wednesday looked less secure at the back, where the absence of Jon Newsome, among others, is conspicuous and all hope of overturning the deficit vanished with a calamitous start to the second half.

Only seconds after the restart, Grimsby equalised, Lee Nogan beating Kevin Pressman with a superbly placed 15-yard strike after the half-time substitute Jack Lester had knocked down Kevin Donovan's cross.

Wednesday barely had time to assess the damage when Paul Groves, popping up in the inside-right channel, fed off Nogan's supply to send a curling shot beyond Pressman's reach into the far corner.

Di Canio squared matters on the night when he volleyed Benito Carbone's chip over Davison's head with 35 minutes left and drilled home his second three minutes from the end.

But it was a hollow victory for the home side, who lie third from bottom in the Premiership and will need to secure only their second win of the season against Everton on Saturday if calls for Pleat's dismissal are not going to intensify.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nolan, Walker, Stefanovic, Briscoe (Poric, 56); Whittingham, Magilton, Collins (Humphreys, 56), Pembridge; Di Canio, Carbone. Substitute not used: Clarke (gk).

Grimsby Town (4-4-2): Davison; McDermott, Lever, Handyside, Gallimore; Donovan, Widdrington, Groves, Black; Livingstone (Lester, h-t), Nogan. Substitutes not used: Woods, Jobling.

Referee: K Burge (Pontypandy).

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