GRIMSBY Town returned to the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier but could not find a way of claiming all three points against Hereford United at Blundell Park.
After being knocked off top spot on goals scored by Wrexham, the Mariners looked to be on their way to providing the perfect response when Nathan Pond put them ahead within two minutes.
Pond, playing the last game of a successful loan spell from Fleetwood, headed home at the far post and Town went on to dominate the early stages of the game.
But their visitors grew into the contest and they were level three minutes before the break, when Ryan Bowman struck to convert a near-post cross.
Both sides went in search of victory after the break but Town, with two new signings involved, could not do enough in front of goal to force a winner.
Two changes were made to the Grimsby side after the New Year’s day draw with Lincoln City.
Richard Brodie was thrown straight into the starting line-up in place of Greg Pearson in attack after signing on loan from Crawley, while Bradley Wood replaced the suspended Aswad Thomas at left-back.
Fellow new boy Jamie Devitt was named as a substitute after signing a loan deal from Hull City on Friday.
James McKeown began in goal, with the back four made up of Sam Hatton, Ian Miller, Pond and Wood.
The midfielders were Joe Colbeck, Craig Disley, Derek Niven and Marcus Marshall, while Brodie was partnered up front by Andy Cook.
Devitt was joined on the bench by Shaun Pearson, Greg Pearson, Dayle Southwell and Andi Thanoj.
Hereford arrived in Cleethorpes on a good run of form that had most recently seen them secure a 1-0 success at Kidderminster.
The Bulls side included former Bath winger Marley Watkins, who had previously impressed against the Mariners. Ex-Lincoln and Tamworth forward Kyle Perry was kept in reserve on the bench.
Brodie’s first action saw him win an early free kick on the right and it led to the first goal of the afternoon with less than two minutes on the clock. Colbeck sent the ball to the far post and POND ghosted in unmarked to head past visiting keeper James Bittner.
Town were making all of the early running and they won the first corner through Colbeck on the right on eight minutes. Marshall looked to dummy the ball from Colbeck’s kick but nobody in black and white was there to pick it up.
Another Grimsby corner was cleared soon afterwards as the home side continued to dominate, with Hereford yet to mount an attack of note as the 10-minute mark passed.
An altercation between Wood and Hereford striker Ryan Bowman provided the game’s first flashpoint in front of the Pontoon Stand but the referee took no action, other than to award a free kick to the Mariners.
Midfielder Harry Pell tried his luck with a low shot from 30 yards after a brief spell of Hereford possession but the ball took a deflection and drifted harmlessly out for a goal kick.
A free kick for handball against Disley gave the away side another chance to attack but the delivery from Watkins was poor and Niven headed clear.
A better cross from Watkins on the right soon afterwards but centre-back Stefan Stam could only head straight at McKeown.
A foul on Marshall gave Town a free kick inside the Hereford half on 18 minutes and Hatton’s delivery found Pond at the far post but his header went high and wide.
A cross from Wood on the left found Colbeck at the far post after a Town move that had also involved Brodie, Marshall and Niven but Colbeck could only send a weak header to keeper Bittner.
Defender Luke Graham’s free kick from halfway almost led to danger for the Mariners after James Muso picked the ball up at the edge of the box but good work by Miller ensured a goal kick was the outcome.
A shot from Muso was blocked after left-back Joe Heath beat Colbeck, before the rebound fell to Pell, who arrowed a shot towards goal that McKeown had to palm away for a corner.
Hereford were starting to come into the game as an attacking force by the time the half-hour mark came and they won another corner, this time on the right, which was comfortably dealt with by the Town defence.
At the other end, a low cross from Colbeck was cut out for a corner and after the winger’s flag-kick was headed back across goal by Pond, Miller hit a half-volley just over the bar from 12 yards.
A foul on Colbeck near the dug-outs brought the game’s first yellow card, with Pell the man going into the referee’s notebook on 35 minutes. The resulting free kick from Hatton went through to Bittner.
Brodie and Cook linked up inside the Hereford penalty area to create the next opportunity for Town but Cook could not work a shooting chance and Hereford eventually cleared after Marshall chipped the ball back in.
Hatton gave away a free kick for a push just inside his own half but the away side could not make anything of the opportunity as Wood cleared.
The visitors were back on level terms three minutes before the break, when the Mariners gave the ball away on the left and Watkins skipped past Colbeck and Niven before sending over a low cross that gave BOWMAN a simple task to convert at the near post.
Grimsby had a chance to reclaim their advantage almost immediately, when a good run from Marshall down the left led to him crossing to the far post but Colbeck could only head over the bar.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and with no further chances, the teams went in level at the break.
The scoreline was a fair reflection of a half that Town had started strongly but their visitors had gradually grown into, although the Mariners would have been disappointed with the goal they conceded.
No substitutions were made before the restart and the first chance of the second half came when a Wood cross was headed at Bittner by Marshall after a run by Colbeck down the left.
A weak volley by midfielder Josh O’Keefe at the other end caused McKeown no problems as it bobbled wide.
Pell then had a shot that deflected off Miller but proved comfortable for the Town keeper, who caught it at his far post.
A handball by Niven gave the visitors a free kick on the right but Muso could only find McKeown with his header from it.
The Mariners looked like they needed a lift and the management team appeared to agree as they sent Devitt on in place of Colbeck just before the hour.
The Hull City loanee’s first involvement was to cut in from the left and fire a shot from 20 yards that cleared the crossbar.
Brodie looked to make something happen when he picked the ball up and advanced inside the Hereford half but he opted to shoot from 30 yards and sent his left-footed effort well over the bar.
A foul on Marshall gave Grimsby a free kick inn a dangerous position, 25 yards out and slightly right of centre. The ball was touched to Brodie and he unleashed a left-footed shot that curled the wrong side of the far post.
Devitt was making a difference and he linked up well with Brodie on 73 minutes, playing a one-two before firing off-target.
Brodie appeared to be brought down inside the Hereford penalty area soon afterwards but the decision instead went against the striker, with the visitors awarded the free kick.
A foul by Disley on Watkins gave Hereford a free kick in a central position, 30 yards out, with a quarter of an hour left to play. Watkins took the kick but McKeown was able to watch it go wide.
At the other end, a snap-shot by Cook on the turn from 18 yards was well held by Bittner in the Bulls’ goal.
Devitt won a corner on the left on 78 minutes but it was cleared , before the Hereford defence again held firm when the ball was sent back into the danger zone.
Southwell replaced Cook in the Town attack for the last 10 minutes, before Marshall cut in from the right and hit a 20-yard shot that Bittner had to get down to stop.
Striker Chris Sharp was booked for diving as he made a poor attempt to win a free kick for Hereford on the left.
Town were still pushing forward in search of a winning goal and they had the ball in the box again when Marshall crossed from the right on 86 minutes but the offside flag went up against Brodie.
The away side had not caused too many problems in front of goal but they won a corner on the right with two minutes to go, although the delivery was cleared by Disley.
Wood had to concede another corner after a run from Watkins down the Hereford right but again, it was comfortably dealt with.
Three added minutes were signalled by the fourth official and with no further chances, booth teams were forced to settle for a point each.
The Mariners are next in action on Tuesday, when they travel to Gateshead.