Former All Whites ‘keeper turns semi-final hero in quest for promotion

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Former All Whites goalkeeper Max Crocombe is relishing the role he’s played in helping non-league club Grimsby Town in their efforts to win promotion to England’s Football League.

The 28-year-old Auckland-born ‘keeper laid on an assist for Grimsby’s goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time, a goal that sent their promotion play-off quarter-final into extra time.

Grimsby beat Notts County 2-1 and will this weekend travel to Wrexham to decide which club goes to London Stadium (formerly the Olympic Stadium) for the National League promotion play-off final on June 5.

But Grimsby manager Paul Hurst reckons Crocombe should have scored with his last-gasp effort, and not just laid on the assist for Gavan Holohan’s dramatic equaliser.

Crocombe left his goalmouth to go upfield for a Grimsby free-kick, hoping to get contact on the cross in the County box.

In the ensuing scramble, he got the last touch, enabling Holohan to blast the ball home.

‘Maybe he brought a little bit of confusion’

Hurst told GrimsbyLive: “It looked like it had dropped to him and he probably could have scored.”

And the Mariners’ boss said he had to laugh off Crocombe’s claims he could play as a striker.

“Funnily enough, there was a whiteboard before the game in the dressing room — I don’t know if it was for a charity game or something — but there was one player whose positions were down as keeper, defensive midfielder and somewhere else, which made me think, ‘He’s a good squad player’.

“Then, Max proceeded to tell me that, up to the age of 17, he was playing up front. I don’t know what standard it was and he certainly didn’t finish like a striker or attempt to, but maybe he brought a little bit of confusion.”

Grimsby play Wrexham away on Saturday May 28 (12.30pm UKT) with the winner to face the victor of the second semi-final, which is between Solihull Moors and Chesterfield on Sunday.

Town face a Wrexham team looking to recover from the disappointment of their 1-0 FA Trophy final defeat to Bromley at Wembley, having also finished runners-up to Stockport at the top of the National League.

The Welsh club has lost only once at home all season, against Yeovil in November.

About Max Crocombe

Crocombe has become Grimsby’s first choice goalkeeper after joining the club last year from A-League side Melbourne Victory.

He had previously played for Brisbane Roar after a six-year UK career with clubs including Oxford United, Barnet (loan), Southport (loan), Carlisle United and Salford City.

The 1.94m ‘keeper played for New Zealand’s U-20 and U-23 squads before playing twice for the All Whites in 2018.

Main photo: Crocombe trains with the national squad in 2018. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

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