Lee Clark and Jack Lester were both shown late red cards as Fulham were held to a 1-1 draw at Grimsby Town this afternoon.
Clark was dismissed nine minutes from time after lunging in on Lester having already been booked, whilst the home striker followed him four minutes later when – having been booked for his part in Clark’s departure – he made a late challenge on Chris Coleman and was sent for an early bath. The Mariners earned a creditable point against Paul Bracewell’s men with a spirited showing that saw them recover from the worst possible start.
A horrid defensive mix-up allowed Steve Finnan to fire Fulham in front after four minutes – but that was as good as it got for the visitors. Bracewell’s plans began to unravel as he lost two key players inside the first 35 minutes. Stan Collymore had been replaced by young forward Kevin Betsy after only ten minutes, before Arsenal loanee Stephen Hughes limped off injured ten minutes before the break and the Whites were never able to control the engine room after that. Grimsby had spurned a few good openings before they equalised right on the stroke of half time. Kingsley Black drilled a low volley past Maik Taylor to finish off a lovely move along the right flank.
Bracewell’s side enjoyed the lion’s share of possession after the interval but were unable to regularly test summer signing Danny Coyne in the Grimsby goal. Betsy was sacrificed following Clark’s sending off and the majority of the 6,000 fans inside the famous old ground were delighted to see their side battle for a point, with the Mariners’ tenacity typified by the tough tackling of Alan Pouton, who prevented Fulham from building up a head of steam after replacing forward Lee Ashcroft midway through the second half.
GRIMSBY TOWN (3-5-2): Coyne; R. Smith, Lever, McDermott; Coldicott, Grove, Donovan, Black, D. Smith; Ashcroft (Pouton 63), Lester. Subs (not used): Croudson, Butterfeld, Allen, Livingstone.
BOOKED: Lever, Lester.
GOAL: Black (44).
FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Finnan, Brevett, Melville, Coleman, Morgan; Davis, Hughes (Trollope 34), Davis, Clark; Collymore (Betsy 11), Peschisolido. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Symons.
SENT OFF: Clark.
GOAL: Finnan (4).
REFEREE: J. A. Kirby (Sheffield).