GRIMSBY Town suffered a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat as Wrexham claimed the FA Trophy at Wembley Stadium.
After a first half of few chances, Wrexham had looked to be the more likely to break the deadlock but it was the Mariners who went ahead through Andy Cook with 20 minutes to go.
But the Mariners could not hold onto their advantage, as midfielder Kevin Thornton equalised from the penalty spot with nine minutes to go after Shaun Pearson fouled Dean Keates.
That took the game to extra time and the Mariners defended bravely as their opponents piled on the pressure, with keeper James McKeown in inspired form to keep the scores level and send the tie to penalties.
Town could not take advantage from the penalty spot though, as Sam Hatton and substitute Richard Brodie both missed, while all four of Wrexham’s penalty takers scored.
Grimsby bosses Rob Scott and Paul Hurst made four changes to the side that lost at Nuneaton in midweek.
Aswad Thomas came back into the XI in place of Bradley Wood at left-back, while Frankie Artus started in midfield as Tom Naylor was ineligible to play and Derek Niven was not fit to return from injury.
The other changes saw Marcus Marshall replace Jamie Devitt on the left wing and Cook come back in alongside Ross Hannah in attack.
McKeown began in goal, with Hatton, Pearson, Ian Miller and Thomas making up the back four.
Joe Colbeck started on the right of midfield, with Craig Disley alongside Artus in the middle and Marshall on the left.
Cook and Hannah were the strikers, with Brodie, Devitt, Wood, Andi Thanoj and Lennell John-Lewis all named as substitutes.
Wrexham’s main threat was likely to come from their front three, with player-manager Andy Morrell joined by leading scorer Danny Wright and veteran striker Brett Ormerod.
Town started brightly and they almost had an opening when Artus won the ball against Kevin Thornton in midfield but Hannah fouled Martin Riley as he looked to get onto the through-ball.
The Mariners won the first corner of the game on four minutes and Colbeck played it short to Hatton, who found Artus and he shot over the bar from 25 yards.
A foul by Keates on Artus gave Town a free kick 30 yards out and Hatton’s chip to the far post was met by Pearson but he could only head wide of the goal.
Disley was given a warning by referee Jon Moss on 12 minutes for a foul on Dean Keates in midfield but Wrexham were unable to create a goalscoring chance from the resulting free kick.
Thornton won a corner for the Welsh side on the quarter-hour but Wright’s flag-kick was headed away by Pearson.
Wrexham were enjoying more possession than the Mariners in the early stages of the game but neither side had tested the opposing goalkeeper as the 20-minute mark passed.
The first real chance of the game came on 21 minutes when Miller gave the ball away and Harris took it on and advanced as Pearson slipped, before hitting a shot that just cleared McKeown’s bar.
At the other end, a cross from Hatton on the right fell for Marshall but he could only head wide of Chris Maxwell’s target.
Another Town attack came when Disley won a ball in midfield on 24 minutes but Marshall could not capitalise when it was eventually played into the penalty area.
Both teams were looking to attack and Wrexham’s next chance came when Ormerod crossed from the right for Harris but he could only drag his shot well wide from 20 yards.
Harris was pulling the strings in the Wrexham midfield but he gave Grimsby a chance to get the ball into the box after fouling Artus on halfway on 32 minutes. Hatton’s driven ball to the 18-yard line was headed clear by centre-back Chris Westwood.
Hatton and Keates were both spoken to by the referee after an altercation followed a foul by the Town defender. The free kick was cleared and Marshall broke down the left before passing to Thomas, who cut into the box but could not pick out a team-mate.
Hatton had to concede a corner on the Wrexham left on 37 minutes but the kick from Harris landed on the roof of McKeown’s net for a goal kick.
A smart free kick from Hatton inside the Wrexham half soon afterwards set Hannah free down the left and he tried to get a cross in but saw the ball cleared.
Good pressure by Hannah after a back-pass gave Town a throw-in level with the Wrexham penalty area five minutes before the break but again, the Mariners could not create anything from it.
A foul by Thomas gave Keates a chance to swing a free kick into the Grimsby box soon afterwards and McKeown punched clear but the ball was worked back into the danger zone and was eventually put out for a corner. A foul was spotted as the kick came in though and the pressure on the Town backline was relieved.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and with no further chances created by either side, the game remained goalless at the break.
Wrexham had looked the more threatening of the two sides over the course of the first 45 minutes but Town had defended well and deserved to be level at the halfway point.
No changes were made before the restart and Town came under pressure in the opening stages of the second half, as McKeown slipped but recovered brilliantly to deny a Wrexham attacker.
The Red Dragons should perhaps have taken the lead on 52 minutes when a corner dropped for Wright on the six-yard line but he could only side-foot inches wide of McKeown’s post.
The first substitution of the game came on 55 minutes, with Thanoj coming on in place of Hannah as the Town management team looked to add more to their midfield.
Wrexham were still on top and a cross from Steven Wright had to be headed away just after the substitution.
Grimsby’s first opening of the second half saw a ball played through for Cook but the striker was in an offside position and curled his shot wide anyway.
The first yellow card was shown to Riley for a foul on Disley three minutes later but Hatton’s free kick was cleared after it had been headed on by Pearson.
Pearson was tripped by Wright inside the Wrexham half as the Mariners began to come into the game more but Marshall was adjudged to have run the ball out for a goal kick after it was played to him by Hatton.
Adrian Cieslewicz came on for his boss Morrell just after the hour, before a weak shot from Wright was deflected through to McKeown.
Town then won a corner after Cook’s chipped cross was headed out by Westwood but Colbeck’s driven delivery was headed over the top by Pearson.
Marshall won a corner for Grimsby on 65 minutes and it quickly turned into another one, which led to a foul being given against Thanoj on the edge of the box.
The game was moving from end to end but still, neither goalkeeper had been called into serious action.
That should have changed on 67 minutes, when a cross from Jonny Hunt on the left dropped for Ormerod but he could only put his header over the bar from eight yards from what could have been the best chance of the game so far.
The Mariners had been under pressure for much of the game but they took the lead with 20 minutes to go. A superb pass from Disley sent Colbeck away down the right and he cut in before picking out COOK, who saw his first shot saved by Maxwell but slammed in the rebound in front of the Town fans.
Wrexham looked to respond quickly but Cieslewicz’s low cross from the left was well cut out by Disley.
A free kick was given against Thanoj halfway inside the Town half as the Welsh club continued to look for a leveller. Keates chipped it into the box but Westwood headed over the bar.
A Wrexham penalty shout came when Thornton burst into the box and was challenged by Colbeck but the referee pointed for a goal kick.
Town were looking to hold onto their lead by getting numbers behind the ball and making it difficult for their opponents to break through.
McKeown was called into action with 11 minutes to go, as Cieslewicz picked the ball up on the left side of the box and cut inside before drilling a low shot that the Town stopper got down to.
Wrexham were given the chance to get back into the game with nine minutes to go, after Keates got into the box and was brought down by Pearson. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and THORNTON stepped up to send McKeown the wrong way for 1-1.
The side in red were now the team in the ascendancy and Town were now hanging on, with extra time looming.
A foul by Artus gave Wrexham another chance from a free kick with five minutes left to play. From it, the ball was touched to Harris and McKeown was forced to make a great save as the midfielder’s blast looked destined for the top corner of his net.
Brodie replaced Marshall for the last few minutes and Pearson showed good strength soon afterwards to hold off Wright as he looked to get onto the ball inside the Town box.
Goalscorer Thornton was replaced by Joe Clarke with two minutes left, with Wrexham looking to win the game in normal time.
Three minutes of added time were signalled, giving both sides an additional opportunity to grab a winner and avoid the extra period.
But neither side could find a way through and so the match moved into 30 minutes of extra time.
Town kicked off the first half and their first attack saw Brodie take the ball down the left but he did not take the opportunity to cross and instead, the ball went out for a goal kick.
A chance for Wrexham came nine minutes in when Thanoj lost possession in a dangerous area and the ball was played to Wright but he could not work an opening for a shot on the edge of the box.
Harris tried a shot from 25 yards two minutes later but again, McKeown was not tested as the ball flew over his bar.
Colbeck had to concede a corner in a sliding challenge with Hunt on the Wrexham left and the kick from Cieslewicz was half-cleared before substitute Clarke sliced a shot wide.
The Town keeper made a magnificent save that kept his side in the game with a minute to play before the turnaround. Cieslewicz took the ball on his chest and hit a stunning volley on the turn that looked to be going in until the Mariners stopper dived full-length to get a glove to it and smother at the second attempt.
Cieslewicz brought another save out of McKeown as the game moved into one minute of stoppage time, as the keeper this time blocked a shot with his feet at his near post.
The Mariners were on the attack at the beginning of the second half of extra time, as Miller intercepted an attempted through-ball and played it forward for Colbeck, who shot just wide from 25 yards.
A ball down the line from Colbeck gave Cook something to chase on 110 minutes but Riley got there first to head back to his keeper, Maxwell.
Wrexham were still creating more chances than Town and Cieslewicz tried another shot with seven minutes left but he missed the target, with the ball going over the bar.
Miller had to concede a corner with four minutes left as the Dragons continued to pile forward but the Mariners eventually cleared their lines.
Grimsby were having to defend well as a penalty shootout drew ever closer, with Pearson blocking another effort from Wright.
Cieslewicz tried to curl a shot into the far corner that McKeown did well to get a hand to with three minutes left.
And the keeper was forced to make an even better save soon afterwards, somehow getting a fingertip to a shot from Wright to ensure the only damage was a corner.
One added minute was signalled as Wrexham sent another corner into the Town box that the defence again dealt with.
That proved to be the last chance, meaning the game had to be decided from the penalty spot.
Wrexham had an early advantage in the shootout as Cieslewicz scored but Hatton hit the post with Grimsby’s first penalty.
Things then got worse for the Mariners when Wright scored Wrexham’s second kick but Brodie fired over the bar.
Colbeck scored Town’s third penalty but it didn’t matter, as Westwood and Hunt both hit the net to send the trophy to north Wales.
Town now return to league action when they take on Gateshead on Tuesday.
MARINERS: 13 McKeown, 2 Hatton, 3 Thomas, 5 Pearson, 6 Miller, 7 Colbeck, 8 Disley (C), 11 Artus, 12 Cook, 25 Hannah, 26 Marshall. SUBS: 14 Brodie, 15 Devitt, 19 Wood, 21 Thanoj, 28 John-Lewis.
WREXHAM: 24 Maxwell, 2 S Wright, 6 Riley, 8 Harris, 9 D Wright, 10 Ormerod, 11 Morrell, 12 Keates (C), 16 Hunt, 23 Westwood, 29 Thornton. SUBS: 13 Coughlin, 7 Cieslewicz, 14 Clarke, 15 Ogleby, 17 Little.