Doncaster Rovers to provide Grimsby Town's toughest pre-season test yet
IT's a case of role reversal for Grimsby Town tonight as they take a step up in class for a test against Football League opposition.
League One outfit Doncaster Rovers are the visitors to Blundell Park for the Mariners' first home game of their pre-season programme (7.30pm).
In their previous two games – at Grimsby Borough and Gainsborough Trinity – Town have taken on opposition they would have been expected to dominate, both in terms of possession and goal-scoring chances.
But in Dean Saunders' side, they face a team against whom they will be billed as underdogs – in a game more likely to test their defensive capabilities and tactical discipline rather than offensive fluidity and incisiveness.
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Speaking ahead of the clash, joint-boss Rob Scott told the Telegraph that the game against Rovers will provide him and Paul Hurst with an ideal opportunity to see how their team fares against a higher class of opposition.
"Doncaster is going to be a different sort of game than we've had so far," he said.
"We're taking on, what is on paper, superior opposition to what we have been playing against.
"And, if last year's pre-season game against them is anything to go by, it's going to be a difficult game for us.
"They liked to keep the ball a lot last year and I don't know if that will have changed since the new manager came in, but it is going to be a good test for us.
"This time, we're the ones that are expected to have less of the ball and work harder and it will be interesting to see how it pans out.
"The next three games that we've got in Doncaster, Hull and Scunthorpe will be more difficult, and it's a good opportunity for us to have a look at how we deal with that.
"We've planned it with a purpose so that we have some games where we've got more possession and some games during which we see less of the ball.
"It's important for us to see both.
"It will be interesting to see how we do tonight.
"Often when you play against better teams, you play slightly better football yourselves."
Scott added that his side must improve on their showing in the 2-2 draw with Gainsborough Trinity in which he felt they gave an unsatisfactory performance that owed much to pre-season rustiness and fatigue.
"We'll need to keep the ball better than we did against Gainsborough on Saturday," he added.
"We want to pass the ball better tonight and work harder in and out of possession."
"We've analysed the game on Saturday and you can go into a lot of factors and reasons for the performance.
"But, above all, it is still pre-season; we played two different teams during the game and that means that you can't get any fluency going.
"There were a few heavy legs in there because we worked them pretty hard on Friday but it's pre-season and we don't want them going into every game as fresh as a daisy.
"That's not what it's about at the minute.
"We tried out a hundred different things and perhaps we didn't have them where we wanted them to be.
"But it's something that we'll look at and address tonight.
"Doncaster will be a tough test tonight.
"They'll be that little bit more threatening in the final third so we'll have to be sharp, but it is pre-season and it is about trying different things."