Key men, team news and a vulnerable defence - lowdown on Chesterfield's next National League opponents Grimsby Town

Promotion rivals Chesterfield and Grimsby Town clash at Blundell Park in a mouthwatering fixture at the top of the National League this weekend.

By Liam Norcliffe
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 12:44 pm

The Spireites lead the way after just one defeat in 17 but the sixth-placed Mariners could cut the gap from four points to one if they come out on top.

We spoke to Grimsby Town reporter Elliott Jackson for the lowdown on Saturday’s opponents...

What are the main reasons why Grimsby have slipped down the table in recent weeks?

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Chesterfield take on Grimsby Town at Blundell Park on Saturday.

Initially, creating chances and scoring goals were the problem, with John McAtee injured. More recently, the defence has looked vulnerable. Paul Hurst has chopped and changed the backline and goalkeeper in recent matches with players dipping in form. However, against Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend, that lack of continuity in defence was clear to see and cost the Mariners.

What's the feeling among the fanbase about the season so far?

I think the fans are a little bit confused as to what the true level of this side is, right now. They came flying out of the blocks but have since lost six of their last seven games, in all competitions. Hurst believes it's somewhere in the middle but given how tight this league is, they need an upturn sooner rather than later.

Is Paul Hurst under any pressure?

From the owners' perspective, no. A very small minority of fans vented their frustrations at Dagenham last weekend but that was quickly drowned out by overwhelming support from the rest of the away end. The overall feeling is that Hurst shouldn't be under pressure but recent results have made him a target for criticism. The ridiculously good start raised expectation levels in some quarters which has made their recent slump tougher to understand.

How big of a blow will it be not to have McAtee and Hunt on Saturday?

A big one. When McAtee was injured, his absence was obvious. They looked toothless in attack with their top goal-scorer, he's a top, top operator at this level. Hunt would have been an important player against Chesterfield, in particular. He's their best ball-playing midfield and often when Town play well in possession, Hunt is key to that. With Giles Coke potentially injured too, it does leave the Mariners light in the middle of midfield.

Who are Grimsby's key men and what style of football can we expect?

Harry Clifton is the one to watch. He could play centrally with McAtee and Hunt missing but has often played down the left-hand side. His work rate is infectious, he's a home grown lad and is more often than not one of their best performances. Jordan Maguire-Drew was bright on debut last weekend and there is definitely more to come from him once Town have got more minutes into his legs.

What do you make of Chesterfield so far?

Very impressive. Given the form of both sides heading into the game, I expect it to be Town's toughest challenge to date.

Score prediction?

I like to be positive so I'll go for a 1-1 draw. If you offered me that result now, I'd snatch your hand off, to be honest.