GRIMSBY Town let a lead slip as Wycombe Wanderers came back to claim all three points at Blundell Park.
The Mariners had looked to be on their way to a second win of the week after Calum Dyson’s penalty gave them the advantage and they were the side creating the better chances as their visitors failed to cause problems.
But the game turned in the space of eight second-half minutes, as a Danny Collins own goal and a rocket from substitute Paris Cowan-Hall as Gavin Gunning lay injured inside his own penalty area meant the points went back to Buckinghamshire.
Town looked to pick themselves up and attacked in search of an equaliser but it was not to come and in the end, the main feeling around the home areas of the ground was one of frustration.
The Mariners were unchanged after Tuesday’s victory over Colchester United, with goalkeeper James McKeown lining up behind a defence of Zak Mills, Shaun Pearson, Collins and Danny Andrew.
Gunning took up a position in front of the back four, with Tom Bolarinwa, Jamey Osborne and Chris Clements making up the midfield and Dyson again being paired with Sam Jones in attack.
The bench also remained the same, with Ben Davies, Dominic Vose, Andrew Boyce, Scott Vernon, Brandon Comley, Adi Yussuf and Luke Maxwell all waiting for their opportunity to come on as substitutes.
Wycombe made the journey north looking to improve on a run which had seen them win just one of eight games since the end of January, with Gareth Ainsworth’s men hoping to build on a midweek draw at Accrington.
The main threat for the visitors was likely to be giant striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, although former Town forward Dayle Southwell would also be looking to impress on his return to Blundell Park.
Grimsby kicked off attacking the Pontoon end of the ground and they won the first corner in the second minute when a low Bolarinwa cross was cut out. Collins won the header from the flag-kick but the ball came out to Mills, whose shot from 20 yards went over the bar.
Wycombe’s first attack came from a free kick just inside their own half, which led to Southwell teeing up winger Garry Thompson for a shot which also cleared the bar.
A second Town corner was headed wide by Pearson at the far post, before Bolarinwa failed to get enough contact on a Dyson cross from the left to turn the ball towards goal.
A foul by Bolarinwa on left-winger Sam Wood gave the away side a free kick on eight minutes but the delivery from it was brought clear by Gunning, who was fouled.
Akinfenwa held the ball up for midfielder Matt Bloomfield to try his luck with a shot from 25 yards soon afterwards but McKeown was equal to it, diving to his right to make the stop.
A chance for the away side came when a free kick given for a foul by Clements on the halfway line led to the ball falling for defender Max Muller at the far post after Town failed to clear the danger. But good pressure by Mills proved enough to put the defender off and he fired over the bar.
Town then had a chance but were denied by a superb double save from visiting keeper Jamal Blackman, who kept the ball out from point-blank range before Dyson eventually hit the side-netting.
The Mariners were then given the perfect opportunity to take the lead when Bolarinwa was brought down inside the penalty area by Wood. Referee Nick Kinsely took a few seconds to consider his decision before pointing to the spot and after the defender was booked for the foul, DYSON stepped up and sent Blackman the wrong way to open the scoring.
Wycombe’s response saw them win a corner on the left, which was headed behind for another one on the opposite flank. This time, Jacobson’s kick was clawed away by McKeown amid appeals from the travelling supporters that the ball had crossed the line.
A deflected shot from Wood gave Wycombe another corner on 24 minutes, which was headed away by Dyson. The ball fell for Bloomfield but his half-volley from 20 yards went well over the bar.
Andrew spotted a good run by Osborne two minutes later and found the midfielder with a pass down the left. Osborne pulled the ball back but Jones’ shot was blocked.
Town had a good opportunity to create more danger when Bolarinwa was pulled down to the right of the Wycombe penalty area and Clements fizzed the free kick towards the near-post but when the ball eventually fell for Jones, he could only hit the post from a narrow angle.
The hosts were doing most of the attacking and an exciting run by Bolarinwa down the right eventually came to nothing, before Osborne linked up with Jones in a move which brought a corner.
Wycombe were not troubling the Town defence as the clock ticked past the half-hour, with a cross from the left comfortably dealt with.
At the other end, the Mariners continued to create chances, with Jones seeing one shot clear the bar before another one soon afterwards was saved by Blackman.
A free kick for the visitors from right of centre led to Mills blocking a Southwell shot after Jacobson’s chipped delivery into the box, with the resulting corner dealt with by the home defence.
A cross from the Wycombe right was headed away for a corner by Mills on 39 minutes, with Collins heading clear and also clearing the follow-up cross.
The away side had started to see a bit more of the ball in attacking areas but they remained unable to test McKeown in the Town goal.
Another Bolarinwa run and cross down the right did not lead to a goalscoring opportunity, before a Wycombe corner led to Muller heading over the bar.
One additional minute was signalled to be played at the end of the half and with no further chances created by either side, it was the Mariners who took a deserved lead into the dressing rooms at the interval.
Wycombe boss Ainsworth made a double substitution ahead of the restart, with Luke O’Nien replacing Wood and former Mariners loanee Cowan-Hall coming on for Thompson.
An overhead kick attempt from Southwell went tamely wide as the away side had the first attack of the second half, before a Town free kick from just inside the Wycombe half came to nothing.
A push by Osborne on Southwell gave the visitors a free kick on the right five minutes in but Jacobson’s delivery was glanced wide for a goal kick.
Another opportunity then almost came when Southwell chipped a cross towards Akinfenwa at the far post but the striker could not get on the end of it.
Cowan-Hall was booked for bringing Mills down as he looked to attack down the right, before a chance for the Mariners came when a mistake in the away defence saw Dyson take the ball on before playing it to Jones. He never looked to have it fully under control though and with Blackman advancing, the striker shot wide.
At the other end, a cross from Jacobson was cleared, before right-back Michael Harriman blasted a shot over the bar from 20 yards.
Town had looked in control but the visitors got themselves back on level terms in bizarre circumstances on 63 minutes. A free kick into the box was not dealt with by the home defence and with McKeown off his line, an attempted clearance by Collins looped up over the keeper and into the net for an own goal.
A shot by Cowan-Hall was saved by McKeown as the visitors looked to complete an unlikely turnaround after rarely threatening for so long.
Town boss Marcus Bignot made his first substitution on 69 minutes, with Osborne making way for Vose.
But soon afterwards, things got worse for the Mariners as Wycombe took the lead. Gunning went down injured inside his own penalty area but after the Mariners stopped, the visitors did not and when the ball came to COWAN-HALL, he advanced before firing a 25-yard thunderbolt into the top corner of the net to make it 2-1.
After receiving lengthy treatment, Gunning was carried off the field on a stretcher and Maxwell came on in his place, with the Mariners now facing an uphill task to get anything from the game when they had looked to be on their way to three points.
A long throw from Andrew was headed on by Dyson as Town looked for an equaliser but the ball went through to Blackman in the Wycombe goal.
Yussuf replaced Collins with eight minutes to go as Town looked for extra attacking threat but it was Wycombe who were now doing most of the attacking, having gained in confidence since their two quick goals saw them take the lead.
Some nice build-up play by the visitors eventually led to a low cross for Cowan-Hall but he could not find a finish.
Town’s next opportunity then saw a cross from Jones on the right fall for Vose but he could not get enough power on his shot to seriously test Blackman, who made a routine stop.
Jones won a corner on the left on 88 minutes but after a short ball was played to Vose, he found Mills but the defender’s shot was blocked.
Soon afterwards, good skill by Vose saw him beat his man and get to the byline but after he sent a low ball across the six-yard line, nobody in black and white could force it over the line in a scramble which ended with Blackman diving onto the ball.
A foul on Jones gave the Mariners a free kick 35 yards out as five additional minutes were signalled and after the initial delivery was cleared, Mills did well to run it to the byline but nobody was in the right place to finish when he pulled it back.
Another ball into the box saw Dyson blocked, before Southwell was booked for taking too long to go off the pitch as he was replaced by Myles Weston.
A shot from outside the box was deflected away for a Town corner and with McKeown up to join the attack, a shot was blocked for another flag-kick, which beat everybody and was eventually retrieved by Mills on the right. He played it to McKeown but his attempted cross went out for a goal kick.
That proved to be the home side’s last chance to get anything and they were left disappointed as they finished empty-handed.
Town are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to relegation-threatened Leyton Orient