Grimsby Town 0 Barrow 0GRIMSBY Town’s goalscoring problems continued as they were held to a home draw by relegation-threatened Barrow.
In a game of few good chances, the Mariners were unable to seriously test visiting keeper Danny Hurst throughout the 90 minutes.
The best opportunity of the first half fell for new loan signing Cleveland Taylor, making his Town debut, but after beating the offside trap, his effort was blocked by the Barrow stopper.
After the break, a diving header from substitute Dougie Wilson was the closest the Mariners came to breaking the deadlock, while Danny Rowe could have snatched all three points for the visitors but saw his shot go just the wrong side of the far post.
Town have now scored just two goals in their last six league games and will need that to change in the final run-in to the end of the season.
Taylor came straight into the Grimsby starting line-up after his deadline day switch from Burton Albion.
His inclusion was one of two changes to the team that drew with Gateshead in midweek, with Andy Cook also coming in as Lennell John-Lewis and Wilson dropped to the bench.
James McKeown started in goal, with Bradley Wood, Shaun Pearson, Ian Miller and Aswad Thomas making up the unchanged back four.
There was a change of formation from the trip north-east, with Taylor, Andi Thanoj, Tom Naylor and Jamie Devitt forming a four-man midfield, leaving Cook and Dayle Southwell as the two strikers.
John-Lewis and Wilson were joined as substitutes by Sam Hatton, Ross Hannah and Marcus Marshall.
Barrow made the long trip from Cumbria looking to make it three wins on the bounce after victories over Macclesfield and Dartford in their previous two games.
But Dave Bayliss’ side remained in the relegation zone at kick-off, meaning any positive result would be vital in their battle to beat the drop.
Grimsby’s first attack saw Devitt and Southwell link up well down the left, before Naylor eventually volleyed a low shot at visiting keeper Danny Hurst.
Barrow’s first opportunity to put pressure in the Town goal came with a long throw from Garry Hunter from the right but striker Rowe could only divert it out for a goal kick.
Miller was penalised for a tug on the shirt of Rowe on 11 minutes but McKeown made a comfortable save from the striker’s 30-yard free kick.
Thomas was shown the first yellow card of the game for a late challenge on Hunter on the Barrow right. Again, the ball from the resulting free kick was claimed by the Town keeper.
The away side then won the first corner on 14 minutes and although Richie Baker’s initial delivery was poor, the Mariners struggled to clear their lines and Barrow kept possession, eventually winning another corner on the opposite flank.
Again, Town could not get the ball away and a foul by Thanoj on Gavin Skelton gave the Bluebirds of Barrow a free kick on the left, which went straight through to McKeown.
The best chance of the game so far came on 16 minutes, when Taylor beat the Barrow offside trap to go through on goal down the middle but Hurst came off his line to block the winger.
Cook sent Southwell through down the right two minutes later but he could not pick out Devitt in the middle and the youngster’s cross was blocked for a corner. Devitt’s kick towards the near post was cleared.
The game had been scrappy so far, with neither side putting together any sustained spells of pressure as the midway point of the half passed.
Skelton hit a weak shot wide of the near post from the left, before a cross from Devitt at the other end was easy for Hurst after more good work by Southwell.
Cook was fouled by centre-back Steve Williams in a central position on 29 minutes but Devitt wasted the free kick, shooting over the bar from 25 yards.
Williams was injured in a challenge with Taylor just after the half-hour and had to be replaced by Mike Pearson.
Southwell went close with a shot from 20 yards after Cook won a header from a McKeown free kick but the effort flew over Hurst’s bar.
A free kick won by Naylor gave Grimsby another chance to get the ball into the penalty area six minutes before half-time but Wood’s ball in from the right proved too close to Hurst, who made a comfortable catch.
Wood won a corner after collecting a superb cross-field pass from Thanoj on 44 minutes but the Barrow defence dealt with Thanoj’s kick.
Two added minutes were played at the end of the half and with neither side able to force any further chances, the game remained goalless at the break.
Both goalkeepers had enjoyed comfortable afternoons so far, as the attackers on both teams failed to create enough danger.
No changes were made before the restart and Barrow had the first chance of the second half as Adam Boyes and Rowe worked an opening from the left before Hunter fired over the bar.
Naylor looked to place a shot from the edge of the box after Southwell pulled the ball back from the left six minutes in but the effort was blocked by a defender.
A Town free kick on the right came when Taylor was brought down by Sean Hessey, who was booked for the foul. Devitt whipped the ball in towards the far post but Pearson headed wide.
The Mariners made a double substitution on 58 minutes, with John-Lewis and Wilson coming on for Cook and Devitt, as Danny Rowe came on for Barrow at the same time.
The visitors were inches away from taking the lead a minute later, as a low shot from Rowe went just past the far post from a narrow angle.
Taylor set off on a run into the Barrow box on 66 minutes but after getting to the by-line, his attempted cross ricocheted back and went out for a goal kick.
Town won a corner on the left a minute later but referee Darren Handley spotted some pushing in the penalty area as Thanoj sent the ball in and a free kick was given to Barrow.
A good Grimsby move down the left on 73 minutes led to Thomas crossing but nobody was there to connect with the ball in the six yard box and the visitors cleared the danger.
Hannah was sent on in place of Taylor in what was the home side’s third and final substitution with 16 minutes to go, as the Mariners looked for extra attacking threat in a bid to make a breakthrough.
Southwell was booked for a foul on Skelton inside the Town half as both teams continued to struggle for clear-cut opportunities.
A spell of Barrow possession led to a corner on the left after a cross from Rowe was blocked and from the flag, Hessey’s header was collected by McKeown at the second attempt.
Soon afterwards, Southwell broke down the right and pulled the ball across the penalty area before it was hacked clear.
Hannah saw a shot blocked, before a diving header from Wilson dropped just wide after a driven cross from John-Lewis.
Town were beginning to show more urgency as the game moved into its last five minutes.
But the visitors were given a chance to snatch all three points when a foul by Miller brought a free kick in a central position, 25 yards out. Baker hit it but curled his shot just wide of McKeown’s target.
Another Baker shot from a similar distance was straight at McKeown as the game moved into four added minutes.
That proved to be the final chance of a frustrating afternoon for the home supporters, as Barrow claimed a precious point.
The Mariners are next in action on Monday, when they will be desperate to regain their goalscoring touch as they travel to Stockport County.