A LAST-gasp equaliser from Padraig Amond rescued a point for Grimsby Town against Chester at the Deva Stadium.
The Mariners had looked to be heading towards their third defeat of the season after former Town favourite Ross Hannah had put the hosts ahead from the penalty spot.
After falling behind, Town attacked in search of an equaliser but as the game moved into stoppage time, it looked like they might be forced to return home empty-handed.
But they kept going until the very end and ultimately, got their reward when Amond’s deft header found the net.
Town boss Paul Hurst named an unchanged starting XI after Saturday’s 4-1 win against Aldershot, meaning Josh Gowling had to settle for a place on the bench on his return from suspension.
James McKeown began in goal, with Danny East, Toto Nsiala, Shaun Pearson and Gregor Robertson making up the defence.
Nathan Arnold, Craig Disley, Matt Robinson and Andy Monkhouse formed the midfield quartet, with Amond and Omar Bogle starting in attack.
Gowling replaced Josh Venney on a bench which also included Jack Mackreth, Craig Clay, Richard Tait and Jon-Paul Pittman.
Chester included former Mariners striker Hannah in their starting line-up, along with ex-Town loanee Jordan Chapell.
Town began brightly and had their first opportunity on four minutes, when Bogle was fouled 25 yards from goal. The striker stepped up to take the resulting free kick himself but could only hit the home wall.
Bogle went closer two minutes later when he was put through, but he could not beat home keeper Jon Worsnop, who stopped the shot at the expense of a corner.
The hosts then began to come into the game, with Hannah sending a long-range shot off-target before George Thomson saw an effort held by McKeown.
Bogle had another good chance to open the scoring on 22 minutes but again, he was denied by Worsnop, who made a good save.
East had to concede a corner five minutes later as Chester attacked again and from the flag, Monkhouse headed behind for another corner. This time, the pressure was relieved as the assistant referee signalled Chapell’s ball had gone out for a goal kick.
East prevented a corner with an overhead clearance just before the half-hour, with the hosts still asking questions of the Mariners backline.
Soon afterwards, a Town break led to Bogle having a shot blocked, before the game entered a quiet spell.
Monkhouse was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on 35 minutes but John Rooney’s resulting free kick was sent high over McKeown’s bar.
A handball by Pearson led to another home free kick a minute later, this time further out from goal. It did not cause any problems though, as McKeown made a comfortable catch when the ball was played into his penalty area.
Hannah was then fouled by Nsiala as the Chester attacking spell continued but again, they could not profit from the free kick
A solo run by Arnold six minutes before the break saw him evade two tackles but he could not pick Amond out with his ball into the box.
Bogle followed Monkhouse into the referee’s notebook when he was yellow-carded for a late challenge on Johnny Hunt.
The former Solihull Moors striker then did well to win a corner with a minute to go before the interval. Arnold’s ball from the flag was headed wide by Pearson.
A chance for the hosts was not taken when Hannah narrowly failed to connect with a ball played across the six-yard box as the game moved into two minutes of added time.
Hannah was involved again soon afterwards, drawing a foul and winning a free kick, which failed to cause any concerns for the Town defence.
In the closing seconds of the half, McKeown came out to punch a cross clear of danger, before colliding with Pearson. He was passed fit to continue though.
That proved to be the last meaningful action of the first half, meaning the teams went into the dressing rooms with the deadlock still yet to be broken.
No changes were made before the restart and the Mariners won a free kick in the early stages of the second half, which Bogle sent over the bar.
A free kick in the other direction was given for a foul by Nsiala on Ben Heneghan but the hosts could not take advantage and Town broke but failed to trouble Worsnop in the Chester goal.
Hannah could not connect with a cross to the far post as Chester mounted an attack, with the ball eventually going out of play.
Arnold had a shot saved from outside the box on 55 minutes, before a Town corner led to Amond being denied by a block on the line.
Monkhouse missed the target with a shot soon afterwards, before an attempt by Hannah at the other end brought a similar outcome.
Monkhouse almost created another opportunity on 63 minutes but his intended pass for Amond did not find the striker and instead, went out of play.
Chester made the first substitution of the night three minutes later, with Sam Hughes replacing Thomson.
Clay came on for Robinson in the Town midfield soon afterwards and not long after that, the hosts were given a golden opportunity to take the lead when Robertson was adjudged to have fouled Hannah inside the box after a corner and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. HANNAH stepped up and took the chance, firing past McKeown and into the net off the post.
Chester could have doubled their lead on 75 minutes when Chapell found himself in a shooting position but his effort was blocked by East.
Amond sliced a volley well wide as the Mariners went in search of an equalising goal, before Mackreth was sent on in place of Monkhouse.
Pearson was booked for a foul near the halfway line, before Chapell was replaced by Kane Richards for the home side.
An attempted pass from Bogle to Disley inside the box with eight minutes left proved just too far ahead of the midfielder, allowing Worsnop to get to the ball first, as Grimsby kept looking for a way back into the game.
The final Chester change saw Craig Hobson replaced by Tom Peers a minute later.
Pearson escaped a second booking for a foul four minutes from time but Rooney’s free kick was cleared by Nsiala.
Disley did not escape punishment when he committed a foul soon afterwards though, as he became the fourth Town player to be shown a yellow card.
Pittman replaced Pearson for the final three minutes, as Town boss Hurst opted to use an extra attacker to try and rescue something from the game.
And he almost had a big impact as the game moved into four minutes of added time, crossing for Bogle to side-foot over the bar.
A foul by Heneghan on Pittman earned the Chester man a yellow card and gave the Mariners another chance to get the ball into the danger zone from the free kick. Arnold’s ball was cleared but Town worked it back and Pittman saw a shot blocked.
Town kept attacking but the hosts again managed to clear their lines.
The visitors were not to be denied though and as the clock ticked past the allotted four minutes, they got their reward when the ball was played into the box and after Disley flicked it on, AMOND got the slightest of touches to head it past Worsnop and into the net.
That proved to be the last real action of the game, meaning Town had grabbed what could prove to be a precious point.
The Mariners are next in action on Friday evening, when Tranmere Rovers are the visitors to Blundell Park.