A LAST-minute penalty denied Grimsby Town maximum points as they were forced to settle for a draw at Macclesfield Town.
Connor Jennings’ first goal for the Mariners looked to have been enough to win the game after the Scunthorpe United loanee struck nine minutes before half-time on his first return to the Moss Rose since a successful temporary spell there before Christmas.
As the clock ticked down, Town looked to have done enough to register a second consecutive win after last week’s home success against Salisbury City.
But in the last minute of stoppage time, Shaun Pearson was adjudged to have fouled Scott Boden in the box and the Macclesfield striker converted from the spot to snatch a point.
Town made two changes to the side that beat Salisbury last week, with Aswad Thomas returning from injury and Scott Kerr coming back into midfield in place of Scott Neilson.
James McKeown began in goal, with Paul Bignot, Pearson, Chris Doig and Thomas making up the back four.
Craig Disley, Andi Thanoj, Kerr and Alex Rodman were the midfielders, with Jennings and Lenell John-Lewis again preferred as the strike partnership.
The Grimsby substitutes were Dayle Southwell, Andy Cook, Patrick McLaughlin, Ross Hannah and Sam Hatton.
Macclesfield were looking to make it a league double over the Mariners after winning at Blundell Park in December.
Jack Mackreth would be a danger man for the hosts, while fellow winger, Cleethorpes-born former Town loanee Peter Winn, would also be looking to make an impression.
An early Grimsby free kick led to the ball breaking for Thanoj, whose shot was blocked.
John-Lewis was the next to try his luck after cutting in from the left but his effort was sliced wide.
Another attempt by Thanoj took a deflection and went out for the first corner of the game on eight minutes but from it, John-Lewis’ off-target header resulted in a goal kick.
At the other end, Danny Andrew beat Bignot but sent his cross straight to McKeown, before Jennings found John-Lewis to create an opening for the Mariners, although the front man lost out to defender Andy Halls.
A Macclesfield corner won after a quick break by the home side saw Mackreth’s drilled delivery headed clear by John-Lewis.
John-Lewis won a corner at the other end on 20 minutes but Disley’s flicked header from Kerr’s centre was cleared from danger.
Another chance almost came for the Mariners when Jennings crossed for John-Lewis but the ball was too high for him to fully connect with a header.
Striker Boden had a shot blocked by Pearson, before another chance came when a misjudged header from Doig fell for Akpo Sodje and he found Boden, who fired wide.
A foul by Thomas on Mackreth gave the home side a free kick on the right but the ball was eventually headed over the bar by Sodje after Andrew’s ball was headed back across goal.
A shot by Jennings just after the half-hour was blocked for a corner, which was punched clear by home keeper Rhys Taylor. Town kept possession and worked the ball back into the box through a Disley cross but the ball went to Taylor.
A further Grimsby flag-kick led to the game’s opening goal, when the ball was lifted into the box by Kerr after a short corner routine and it ricocheted for JENNINGS to poke into the net against the club he scored 17 goals for on a loan spell earlier in the season.
Macclesfield’s first shot on target was registered on 41 minutes but the effort from Mackreth was comfortable for McKeown in the Town goal.
The Grimsby keeper then had to deal with a cross under pressure from Dan Whittaker, punching it and then completing the clearance.
A shot by Winn then bobbled in front of McKeown and hit him before going out for a Macclesfield corner, which was caught by the stopper after the ball was headed back across goal.
A minute of stoppage time was played at the end of the half and the Mariners saw it out to retain their one-goal advantage at the interval.
No changes were made at half-time and the home side were immediately on the attack after the restart, winning a corner which was headed away by John-Lewis.
Rodman earned a corner at the other end three minutes in but Town were unable to turn it into a chance in front of goal.
A free kick soon afterwards was pumped into the box by McKeown but Kerr could not direct the ball towards goal after it had been headed on by Pearson.
Boden was fouled to give the hosts a free kick on 52 minutes but Andrew’s delivery was dealt with by Thomas.
A spell of Macclesfield pressure brought a corner two minutes later, although Winn’s ball was headed over the bar.
Town had a chance to extend their lead when a defensive mix-up let Jennings in but he hesitated and looked for John-Lewis, who in turn was brought down by keeper Taylor just outside the box. Taylor was booked before Thanoj’s free kick went just over the bar.
The home side recovered from their let-off and went forward again in search of an equaliser. They could have had it from an Andrew cross from the left but Boden failed to connect with a header.
Chris Holroyd was sent on in place of Sodje as the hosts looked for something different in attack in a bid to get back into the game.
Town’s first substitution then saw Hatton come on for Doig, who appeared to have picked up an injury.
Jennings went down under a challenge inside the Macclesfield penalty area with a little over 20 minutes to go but as the travelling Mariners fans appealed for a penalty, the referee had other ideas and booked the Scunthorpe loanee for a dive.
McKeown had to come off his line to deny Boden after he burst through the middle and the keeper did well to dive at the striker’s feet and get the ball away.
Danny Rowe replaced Mackreth for Macclesfield with 11 minutes to go, just before Jennings dummied a John-Lewis pass to leave Disley with a shooting chance, which he hit first time and put over the bar.
Goalscorer Jennings was substituted on 85 minutes, with Hannah coming on for the closing stages of the game.
Pearson blocked a shot before an effort from Andrew was held by McKeown as the home side kept looking to level the scores.
Hatton then headed a Winn cross behind for a home corner as the clock ticked down into the last minute of normal time, which McKeown punched out for another flag-kick. This time, Andrew lifted a right-footed shot over the bar.
McLaughlin came on for Rodman as the game moved into three minutes of added time, before John-Lewis fired a shot off-target.
Town looked to have done enough to secure maximum points but in the last of the added minutes, Boden went down under a shirt-pull from Pearson and the referee pointed to the penalty spot after a signal from the linesman.
BODEN stepped up and beat McKeown to deny the Mariners the win and rescue a point with what was the last kick of the game.
The Mariners will look to get over their disappointment and bounce back with a win when they host Hereford United on Tuesday.