Luton Town 1 Grimsby Town 1GRIMSBY Town picked up a valuable point after a committed performance earned them a draw with Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.
A Mariners side showing six changes from the team that won at Dartford in midweek was forced to defend for long periods of the first half as the hosts dominated.
But Town held firm and they took the lead eight minutes after the break, when a shot by Dayle Southwell was bundled into his own goal by Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.
Luton responded well and they were level with 14 minutes to go, as Alex Lawless crashed a shot past James McKeown from inside the box.
From then onwards, the hosts pushed for a winner but again, the Mariners defended well to secure a deserved share of the spoils.
Town bosses Rob Scott and Paul Hurst shuffled their pack again, with Liam Hearn playing the full 90 minutes after being handed a first start since his return from injury.
Simon Ford was another surprise starter, while Aswad Thomas, Andi Thanoj, Frankie Artus and Southwell also came into the XI, with Sam Hatton, Tom Naylor, Joe Colbeck, Craig Disley, Derek Niven and Andy Cook all missing out.
McKeown started in goal, with Bradley Wood, Ian Miller, Ford and Thomas in defence.
Cleveland Taylor, Thanoj, Artus and Southwell formed the midfield, with Hearn and Lennell John-Lewis named in attack.
The Town substitutes were Greg Fleming, Hatton, Naylor, Niven and Ross Hannah.
Luton were looking to avenge two defeats at Blundell Park earlier in the season, with the Hatters going down 4-1 in the league and 3-0 in the FA Trophy.
The main threat from the hosts was likely to come from strikers Jon Shaw and Andre Gray, while midfielder Lawless had impressed in previous encounters against the Mariners.
The first chance of the game came in the opening minute and saw a ball crossed for shaw but he could not make a connection on it.
Town won the first corner a minute later but the kick from Artus was headed clear at the near post.
A corner at the other end saw Gray have a header blocked by Artus, before Steve McNulty collected the follow up but saw his shot blocked by Miller.
The hosts had started brightly and another corner caused problems when the low delivery was sliced against his own post by Wood before Lawless fired wide.
A rising shot from Shaw cleared McKeown’s crossbar on seven minutes, before Artus had to head a cross from David Martin clear as Town continued to come under pressure.
A foul by McNulty on Hearn gave Grimsby a free kick inside the Luton half but the delivery from Artus was cleared by the former Fleetwood defender.
A foul by Thomas gave Luton a free kick but the resulting delivery was easy for McKeown.
Taylor won a corner for the Mariners on the quarter-hour but the kick from Artus was headed clear by Jonathan Smith.
Another corner was won by Taylor soon afterwards and this time, it was scrambled away as Ford looked to capitalise inside the box.
A foul on Thanoj near the halfway line earned Solomon Taiwo the first booking of the game but Wood’s free kick went through to keeper Dean Brill.
Wood had to make a good block after Gray got on the end of a cross field pass and cut back from the by-line to shoot on 22 minutes.
Miller then did well to win a goal kick in a challenge with Lawless, who aimed to beat him down the Luton right.
Lawless created more danger after a corner was half-cleared, hitting a cross-shot that Shaw could not get to with a touch that would have taken the ball into the net.
A good Town move came on the half-hour, when Thanoj sent Taylor away down the left and he found the overlapping Thomas, who hit a cross that Brill just got to ahead of John-Lewis.
A foul by Martin on Thanoj gave Town a free kick on the halfway line but McNulty rose highest to head Wood’s delivery away.
Martin then got a cross in after the ball fell for him following a good challenge by Wood but Shaw could not make it count, bouncing a shot wide.
Luton were beginning to get on top again and McKeown had to punch a Lawless corner clear on 35 minutes.
Ford had to make a clearance after Gray fizzed a low cross over from the right of the penalty area after a good flick from Shaw four minutes later.
Luton were doing most of the attacking but Town were defending well and McKeown was yet to be called into serious action as the 40-minute mark passed.
Thanoj tried his luck from 30 yards with a shot that Brill had to push wide for a corner. From the flag, Brill made the catch but the referee’s whistle had already blown for a Luton free kick.
One added minute was played at the end of the first half and a swerving, 20-yard shot from John-Lewis was gathered by Brill at the second attempt.
That proved to be the last chance of the half, meaning the scores remained level at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and a Lawless corner a minute in was hooked away by Thomas after Shaw headed it on.
Town’s best chance of the game so far came when Thanoj made a run to the edge of the area and squared the ball for Southwell but the striker could not keep his shot down from 18 yards.
A low cross from John-Lewis then found his strike partner Hearn but the returning hitman could only poke his shot off-target at the near post.
Martin drove a shot over the bar after cutting in from the Luton left on 50 minutes, before town were inches away from taking the lead when a shot by Thanoj from 20 yards crashed off the bar but did not cross the line.
A foul on Thanoj by Taiwo gave the Mariners a free kick on 53 minutes and from it, they took the lead.
Artus played the ball in towards the far post and after John-Lewis headed it on, Southwell bundled a shot towards goal at the second attempt and right-back ROWE-TURNER got the vital touch to take it over the line for an own goal.
The home side almost had an instant reply when a ball in from Lawless was headed wide by Scott Griffiths.
Another Lawless corner for Luton was headed clear by Thomas, before Taylor’s name went into referee Seb Stockbridge’s notebook for a foul on Lawless.
Wood did well to challenge Martin inside the Town box and ensure the only damage was a corner, before another flag-kick on the opposite flank came when Thomas tackled Gray.
Luton’s Matt Robinson was booked for a foul on Southwell on 64 minutes and a flowing Town move involving Hearn and John-Lewis nearly led to a chance but a ball aimed for Thanoj was just behind the advancing midfielder.
Hearn had the next opportunity for Grimsby, turning McNulty but firing high over the far post.
Hatton and Niven replaced Thomas and Taylor on 68 minutes, with Wood switching to left-back and Artus moving to the left as Niven slotted into central midfield.
Good defending by Miller saw a cross headed away for a corner, which led to Alex wall - on for Gray - heading on for Griffiths to volley over the bar from 12 yards.
Lawless then spotted McKeown off his line as Luton continued to look for an equaliser but he could not get any height on his shot, which bounced through to the Grimsby stopper.
Wood won a corner for Town on 72 minutes but the kick was headed clear by Smith at the near post.
Luton were back on level terms with 14 minutes to go, when a cross from Martin on the left was picked up by wall on the other flank. He then fizzed a low ball over and LAWLESS took a touch to steady himself before smashing it past McKeown from 12 yards.
Wall looked to complete the turnaround but his tame shot went through to McKeown.
A deflected lawless shot then forced the Grimsby keeper to dive and make a save, before Gray sent a free header off-target as the hosts kept up their pressure.
Good covering by Miller led to another Luton corner on 81 minutes and after Lawless’ kick was half-cleared, a return ball into the box was touched wide by substitute Wall at the near post.
Lawless and wall combined to give Gray a shooting chance with five minutes to go but McKeown was equal to the effort, pushing it over his bar for a corner.
Town were being forced to defend again as Luton were finishing the game strongly, looking for a winning goal.
Another Lawless corner was headed away by Miller, before Thanoj completed the clearance.
Four added minutes were signalled by the fourth official and more Luton pressure came with a corner that eventually saw a Griffiths shot blocked for yet another corner.
Ultimately though, the Luton pressure did not tell and Town were able to close the game out and secure a point.
The Mariners are next in action when they travel to Woking on Tuesday.