Grimsby Town at Gateshead: Scott Neilson could return to boost Mariners
SCOTT Neilson could return for tonight’s clash at Gateshead as Grimsby Town prepare for a “very different challenge” – if the match beats the wintry weather.
Gateshead officials are hopeful their pitch is deemed playable after heavy rain and freezing temperatures in the North East.
Keep an eye on our website, thisisgrimsby.co.uk/sport for any updates.
A troublesome groin injury forced out winger Neilson once again as the Mariners battled to a hard-earned point at Ebbsfleet on Saturday.
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But the on-loan Crawley Town man returned to North East Lincolnshire yesterday and looks likely to provide bosses Paul Hurst and Rob Scott with another option this evening.
With Joe Colbeck making his comeback at the weekend and Marcus Marshall in fine form, Town have plenty of options in the wide areas ahead of their trip to the Gateshead International Stadium.
“We’re hoping Scott Neilson will be available, but you never know,” said Scott. “We saw him on Friday, checked him over and obviously Saturday was a bit too early.
“But he’s a lot more confident in himself looking towards tonight than he was towards the Ebbsfleet game.
“Regardless, we’ll have to look at changing things around again because the lads put in a hard slog on Saturday.
“It was a heavy pitch at Buxton last week and it was an energy-sapping game at Ebbsfleet in regards to how it was played.
“We’ll look at it again and we’ll reassess. We’ll see who’s got any knocks and injuries, who’s feeling anything, and we’ll go again.
“But there were no ill-effects for Joe. It’s good to have him back because we’ve been a bit short on wide players, and it will be great to get the squad back towards full quota.”
Fellow joint boss Paul Hurst is hopeful tonight’s game will beat the weather and get the green light.
He said: “It’s out of our hands, but we hope the game goes ahead.
“Until such time we’re told there’s not a game, we’ll be preparing for one.
“I think potential postponements can affect players’ training. Had news come out from Gateshead before training yesterday, we wouldn’t have told the players.
“I don’t think it helps the mind-set, but it’s the same for both teams. We’ll be telling the players they need to prepare and be ready for a tough game.
“If we’re being honest, it (the ground) may be a bit devoid of atmosphere.
“The fans are a bit away from the ground and it’s going to be a cold Tuesday night at the start of the run-in to Christmas.
“It’s a case of being professional and creating our own atmosphere on the pitch.”
Meanwhile, this evening’s Blue Square Bet Premier clash in the north east will be Town’s fourth match in 11 days.
But Scott insists that the Mariners aren’t alone in facing a hectic schedule – and expects Ian Bogie’s men to play their usual brand of football.
“Gateshead had a hard game on Saturday as well, so it’s not as if they haven’t had to play,” he added.
“They had to travel down to Newport where they were beaten 3-1 and they’ve had to travel all the way back again. So it’s no different for them than us.
“We know what Gateshead are all about. We’ve seen it on a number of occasions now, and they’ll provide a very different challenge.
“They like to get it down. They play three in midfield and three up top, and they like to pass and pass and pass.
“They look to play out from the back, so we probably need to change our game-plan from what we had on Saturday.
“We knew Ebbsfleet were going to be tough, physical and hard-working and that’s exactly what we got. To be fair, I thought we matched it.
“We’ll have a look at whether we do anything differently or set up differently. We know we can with the personnel we’ve got available.
“We’ll have a look at the report from Gateshead’s game with Newport. Sometimes we like to keep it the same for our players and to our advantage because it’s about what we can do rather than other teams.”
Scott believes that Town’s ability to adapt to different systems and formations gives them a great chance of continuing their promotion push this campaign.
He said: “Do you want a settled team? Do you want a settled formation? Sometimes you have to change it and sometimes even if you’re playing well you can change it.
“There could be a period of the game where you change it and then change it back again. It’s silly to think ‘that’s what we’re going to do and we’re going to stick to it’.
“Last year was different. This year we’ve got the ability to go to 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 so it might change within a game – it depends on who the personnel are out there.
“The players are open to adapting to any situation because they’re taking everything on board and they’ll try everything.
“Credit to them for that because they never moan. They get on with it and if it’s not working well we work with it more on the training ground.”