'We are more than a match for anyone', says Grimsby Town skipper Craig Disley
IT'S Grimsby Town's second consecutive game against Southport – but Mariners skipper Craig Disley insists the Sandgrounders remain "an unknown quantity."
The Blue Square Bet Premier rivals come face-to-face again tomorrow (3pm) in the season's curtain-raiser, after completing the last campaign in opposing changing rooms.
That previous clash, at Blundell Park, resulted in a 1-0 victory for the visitors, avenging the Mariners' 2-1 triumph at Haig Avenue in February.
Captain Disley remembers those two clashes vividly, but admits Southport could be a very different proposition in the third meeting between the two sides this year.
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"They were two very tough games against them last season," he told the Telegraph.
"They were quite direct as a team and, especially at their place, put us under a lot of pressure.
"We didn't play great that night but managed to dig in and get a win when we were on that great run of ours.
"The game at home against them was a very different one.
"They let us have the ball for most of the 90 minutes, but we couldn't break them down and they broke away to score a winner right at the end, which was a disappointing way to end the season.
"I'm not sure personnel-wise whether they've got a similar team, but I've heard they'll be playing a bit more football this year, so they're a bit of an unknown quantity in that respect.
"We'll do as much homework as we can on them, but it's all about ourselves and how we perform. We'll go there looking to impose our game on them and get a positive result.
"We've got to concentrate on ourselves. If we perform to our capabilities we're more than a match for anyone.
"It's imperative that we get off to a good start and that's what we'll be looking to do."
Disley and Co have endured a mixed pre-season programme, with a Lincolnshire Senior Cup triumph and draw with Championship Hull City among the positives.
On the flip-side, the Mariners struggled past Northern Counties East League Barton Town Old Boys and lost to Conference North Stalybridge Celtic in their final warm-up.
"In our last couple of friendlies we were well below par," he admitted.
"That's been a timely kick up the backside for us. We know that we've got to perform against teams – no disrespect to them – that are the underdogs.
"It's all well and good playing well against the better sides, it's the games where we are favourites where we've got to perform.
"It was an up and down pre-season but it's all about what happens come the first game of the season.
"I've had pre-seasons with other clubs where we've won nearly every game and then got beaten 4-1 or 5-1 on the opening day of the season.
"We're looking well as a team and it's all about getting it right tomorrow, to get the season going.
"We've worked hard over the last three or four weeks to be ready for Southport away – this game has always been the focus.
"It's been a long time coming and now we're itching to get going."
Disley believes the strength of Town's squad will give them a great chance to stay the course this season, but admitted that losing talismanic striker Liam Hearn for the Southport trip is a set-back.
"It's a blow Hearny being out, but it gives some of the other lads their chance to stake a claim for a starting place," he added.
"We've got players now up front who all offer different things.
"Fingers-crossed they perform to their capabilities, and that should make it hard for Liam to get back in.
"That will give the managers a few headaches, like they've got throughout the whole team – we've got competition for every position and we're going to need that throughout the season.
"If you want to be successful you must have that level of competition.
"At clubs where I've been in the past when we've done well there's been two or three players for every position and I think that's the case this year.
"The gaffers have brought in some great lads, they've all settled in well and there's a fantastic team spirit as well.
"We're all really looking forward to tomorrow – fingers-crossed it will be a good start to the season and a great campaign from there on in."