Football: Palace trawl the depths at Grimsby
Grimsby Town 2 Crystal Palace 0
Lombardo, to his credit, took his substitution in a professional manner, displaying none of the amateur dramatics which used to accompany an early departure by his fellow countryman, Michele Padovano, who recently left Palace for Metz. Yet the bald truth was that Lombardo and his team mates had been given the run-around by an efferverscent Grimsby Town side who on this showing looked much the better prospect for promotion from the First Division.
Four wins in five games have taken Alan Buckley's team into seventh place in the table. In what has become a very open division, who is to say they might not go all the way?
If Grimsby is an unlikely location in which to find a successful football team then Cleethorpes, the neighbouring town where Blundell Park is to be found, is an even more improbable place. The railway line ends here where the North Sea begins and the quaint pier and beachfront bingo halls suggest a footballing backwater.
Yet Grimsby have a rich footballing history and in recent years they have produced successful teams who play an open and attractive game. Buckley is in his second spell at the club and is building steadily on last season's triumphs, which included Wembley victories in the Auto Windscreens Shield final and the Second Division play-offs.
On Saturday Grimsby passed the ball around in their customary style, the midfield providing enthusiastic and intelligent support for the forward pairing of Lee Nogan and Jack Lester. It was no coincidence that the two red cards were shown to Palace's central defenders, Craig Moore and Fan Zhiyi, after fouls on Lester. They rarely looked comfortable as the two Grimsby front men found space with sharp turns and clever runs.
Buckley's biggest problem, predictably enough, is resources. "At the moment we have not got enough players to call a squad," he lamented after the game. Last week Buckley was unable even to field a full complement of substitutes for the Worthington Cup visit to Sunderland, who won deep into extra time.
As for Palace, this disjointed performance was typical of their away form this season. They have scored just three goals on their travels - only Bury and Chesterfield have a poorer away scoring record in the entire Nationwide League - and their mid-table position is due almost entirely to a good home record. This is all in stark contrast to last season, when Palace had registered five away wins in the Premiership by November but did not win a home game until April.
Some of their defending here was shambolic, with Dean Austin a particular offender. He was at fault for both goals, first losing possession as Grimsby built a flowing move finished emphatically by Tommy Widdrington, then failing to stop Lester's powerful run into the box.
Palace badly missed the injured Mathias Svensson and Sasa Curcic. Matt Jansen was their only attacking threat until the arrival of two substitutes, Marcus Bent and Lee Bradbury, who was making his debut following a pounds 1.5m move from Manchester City. Bent nearly scored with his first two touches, a header from a corner and a 25-yard shot after a jinking run, but in truth even a consolation goal would have been more than Palace deserved.
Goals: Widdrington (13) 1-0; Lester (53) 2-0.
Grimsby Town (4-4-2): Davison; Butterfield (Bloomer, 88), Livingstone, Handyside, Gallimore; Coldicott, Widdrington, Groves, Smith; Nogan (Black, 79), Lester. Substitute not used: Dobbin.
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Digby; Austin, Moore, Fan Zhiyi, Sun Jihai; Lombardo (Bent, 72), Foster, Mullins, Rizzo (Bradbury, 72); Morrison (Burton, 50), Jansen.
Referee: D Pugh (Wirral).
Bookings: Grimsby: Gallimore. Crystal Palace: Sun Jihai. Sent off: Crystal Palace: Moore, Fan Zhiyi.
Man of the match: Lester.
Latest in Sport
Andy Murray tells how coach Amélie Mauresmo revealed her pregnancy
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: The biggest fight of all time, or maybe just the most lucrative?
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Everton 3 Manchester United 0 player ratings: Who scored lower - Marouane Fellaini or Radamel Falcao?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£16 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity for someone ...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW Londo...
£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...