Mariners eye another Premiership scalp

October 25, 2005

Grimsby manager Russell Slade admits beating Newcastle tonight would be 'something special' but insists winning promotion remains his overriding objective.

Newcastle's squad of multi-million pound talent arrive at Blundell Park for the Carling Cup third-round clash aiming to avoid the humiliation suffered by Barclays Premiership rivals Tottenham in the previous round.

The Mariners, currently riding high in League Two, overcame a Spurs side containing 10 internationals to add another famous cup upset to Slade's curriculum vitae.

As a manager of Notts County he beat Tottenham in the League Cup in 1994 and with non-League Scarborough he went close to dumping Chelsea out of the FA Cup two years ago.

But while the prospect of sentencing Graeme Souness' side to the same fate as Tottenham excites Slade, the Grimsby boss is keen to stress that promotion is his primary aim.

He said: 'I've had some great memories in cup competitions and while beating Newcastle would be something special, promotion is far more important to Grimsby Town.

'When I arrived here last year the club was in need of some major rebuilding. We only had four senior players left on the books and I then knew I had a massive job on my hands.

'The club had been relegated two years on the trot but we've completely turned things around and hopefully we can go up this season.'

However, Grimsby have been struggling for form in recent weeks and were recently dumped out of the LDV Vans Trophy by Conference outfit Morecambe.

They slumped to a dismal 1-0 home defeat against Leyton Orient at the weekend to surrender crucial points in the race for promotion.

Slade acknowledges that a similar sub-standard display tonight against Newcastle could leave the Mariners seriously wounded.

'If we play like we did on Saturday tonight then we'll be humiliated,' admitted the Grimsby boss.

'Graeme Souness will have his side up for the game because he's been a winner right the way throughout his career and he simply hates losing.'

While September's Carling Cup second-round 1-0 win over Spurs may be a fast-fading memory, it offers Grimsby genuine hope.

The Mariners produced an outstanding performance to grind out a dramatic victory courtesy of Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala's late strike.

Slade added: 'Every single one of our players was on top his game that night for the whole 90 minutes and several Spurs players were not on top of theirs.

'That's what it takes to get a result against a Premiership side and it's not something that happens too often these days.

'We know it will be the same against Newcastle but the pressure is all on them because they are the Premiership club.'

Slade is hoping Kalala shakes off a back strain in time to play while Michael Reddy (bug), Andy Parkinson (shin splints) and Tom Newey (dead leg) are hoping to be passed fit, though defender Gary Croft (knee) is definitely out.