Grimsby Town 2 Southport 2A STOPPAGE time equaliser from Cleveland Taylor earned Grimsby Town a precious point against Southport at Blundell Park.
The Mariners were twice behind in the contest but showed character to haul themselves level and move further clear in the last play-off place.
Southport, playing a 5-4-1 formation, took the lead through Karl Ledsham before Andy Cook brought Grimsby level.
Ledsham’s second of the game gave the visitors their lead back just before half-time but substitute Taylor’s late show meant the hosts took something from the game.
Two changes were made to the Town side that began the 3-1 victory at Macclesfield on Wednesday.
Captain Craig Disley missed out with a knee injury, meaning Frankie Artus moved into the centre of midfield and Marcus Marshall came in on the left wing.
The other alteration saw Joe Colbeck come back into the XI, with Taylor dropping to the bench.
James McKeown started in goal, with Sam Hatton, Shaun Pearson, Ian Miller and Aswad Thomas making up the back four.
Colbeck, Artus and Marshall were joined in midfield by Tom Naylor, leaving Andy Cook and Ross Hannah as the two strikers.
The Grimsby substitutes were Bradley Wood, Liam Hearn, AndI Thanoj, Lennell John-Lewis and Taylor.
Southport made the trip east looking to climb further away from trouble at the wrong end of the Blue Square Bet Premier table after their midweek win at Braintree saw them move clear of the relegation places.
Former Town defender Simon Grand was among their starting line-up, while attackers Shaun Whalley, Ledsham and Andy Owens would all be out to cause problems for the Grimsby backline.
The visitors had the first chance to get the ball into the opposition penalty area after a foul by Artus but Ledsham’s chipped free kick was headed away by Thomas.
Whalley won the first corner of the afternoon on five minutes but Ledsham’s low delivery was cleared by Artus.
Town were yet to make an impression in attacking areas as the 10-minute mark passed, as Thomas set off on a run down the left but failed to find Marshall.
A foul by Marshall on Aaron Chalmers gave the visitors a free kick inside the Mariners half on 12 minutes but again, the free kick did not call McKeown into action.
Whalley then won a corner off Thomas on the right as the away side continued their bright start, although the kick was cleared.
Grimsby’s first corner was won by Thomas soon afterwards and Artus’ kick was met by Pearson but his header was blocked.
Another Southport free kick came when Thomas brought Whalley down on the byline and this time, Chalmers’ free kick was headed at McKeown by Grand.
The visitors were having more of the ball in attacking areas and that was rewarded with the opening goal on 18 minutes. The ball came across the Town penalty area from a throw-in on the left and LEDSHAM was in the right place to side-foot past McKeown from ten yards.
Hatton had to concede a corner after Ledsham found Whalley on the right and he hit a cross that was headed away by the right-back. Town struggled to get the ball fully clear from the flag-kick until Ledsham dragged a low shot well wide from 25 yards.
Marshall beat Chalmers on the left as Town launched a rare attack on 24 minutes but the winger’s cross was headed away from danger before Scott kay completed the clearance.
Cook hit a shot on the turn from 30 yards that was straight at visiting keeper Jonathan Hedge, before Whalley looked to lob McKeown with a speculative effort from long range but saw it drop wide.
Thomas brought Whalley down again on the edge of the Grimsby penalty area on the half-hour after the pacy winger did well to chase down a long ball and beat the left-back. The kick went straight across goal and was cleared by Hatton.
Whalley was causing plenty of problems and Artus was the next man penalised for fouling him, this time in the centre of the field and midway inside the Town half. Chalmers’ shot from 30 yards bounced harmlessly wide.
At the other end, a teasing cross from Hannah on the left was put behind for a corner by James Smith but the kick from Artus was cleared.
Town kept possession though and they had an equalising goal out of nothing when COOK picked the ball up 30 yards out and hit a shot that caught Hedge by surprise as it bounced into the corner of his net.
Whalley showed good skill to juggle the ball in the middle of the Town half and launch a shot from long range but his effort dipped over the bar and the scores remained level.
A push on Cook gave the hosts a free kick inside the Southport half a minute later and Hatton’s free kick was dropped by Hedge but smashed clear by Chris Almond.
Striker Andy Owens hit a low shot that went through to McKeown, before a through-ball for Hannah came to nothing as the offside flag went up against the Grimsby forward.
Three minutes of added time were signalled by the fourth official and in that extra period, the visitors reclaimed their advantage when a pinpoint cross from the impressive Whalley was met by LEDSHAM, who rose at the far post to head the ball down and into the net.
That meant the Mariners were behind at the interval, although Southport had been the better of the two teams and deserved their advantage.
No changes were made by either management team ahead of the restart and Naylor was booked for a foul on Chris Lever two minutes in.
A cross from Thomas on the left proved comfortable for Hedge in the Southport goal, then Almond fired over the bar from 20 yards at the other end.
A Town free kick right of centre was curled in towards the penalty spot by Artus but the ball proved just too high for Pearson and Hedge collected it.
Almond skipped past Miller and pushed the ball across the six-yard line as the away side continued to look bright but Pearson was there to clear.
Pearson then blocked a shot from Ledsham before Town bosses Rob Scott and Paul Hurst made their move, sending on Hearn and Taylor for Hannah and Marshall with 58 minutes on the clock.
Naylor was pulled down by Ledsham in midfield to give Town a free kick and from it, they were inches away from drawing level as Artus sent in a great delivery but Pearson’s header clipped the bar on its way out for a goal kick.
Hearn won a corner on 66 minutes and a Pearson header was blocked but the Mariners kept possession and the returning striker won another corner on the right, which was dealt with by the Southport defence.
Another Artus corner, this time from the left, was headed on and fell for Taylor at the far post but he could not direct the ball towards goal and watched his effort go wide.
Town were now on top as they looked for an equaliser, although Hedge was still relatively comfortable in the visitors’ goal.
Southport attacks were becoming rarer but they could have sealed the points with a break on 74 minutes that saw Whalley get into the box and hit a shot from a narrow angle that took a deflection and looped across goal for a corner.
Danny Hattersley replaced Owens up front for Southport and Russell Benjamin came on for Kay at the same time, with a little under a quarter of an hour still to play.
The visitors then failed to take advantage of a free kick for a foul by Artus on Ledsham as Whalley sent the ball out for a goal kick.
A foul on Cook inside the Southport half had a similar result as Hatton’s ball beat everybody and went out at the far post.
Pearson was booked for a foul on Hattersley, before John-Lewis replaced Colbeck as Town sent an extra striker on in a bid to force something from the game.
Naylor looked to have created an opening as he beat his man on the right and cut in from the byline but the chance was gone when he was adjudged to have run the ball out for a goal kick.
A foul on Naylor earned Lever a booking but the free kick from Artus was eventually cleared.
Town kept looking for a leveller and a cross from Pearson on the right looked dangerous but nobody in black and white could get on the end of it and Southport retained their advantage.
Hearnn fired over the top from 20 yards as the 90-minute mark approached, before Sean Clancy replaced Almond for the away side.
Four added minutes gave Town more time to get the goal that would earn them a point.
And that goal came in the second of those extra minutes, as John-Lewis found TAYLOR and he beat Hedge with a sweet strike into the bottom corner.
The Mariners kept pressing in search of a winner and Taylor won a corner but Artus’ kick did not lead to a chance in front of goal.
Southport were not finished and Whalley had two shots blocked,, the second of which went for a corner but Whalley’s low kick was poor and Town cleared.
That meant it finished honours even as Grimsby moved a point further clear of Forest Green Rovers and a step closer to clinching a place in the play-offs.
Town are next in action on Tuesday when they travel to Dartford.