Town 0 Scunthorpe Utd 0GRIMSBY Town and Scunthorpe United will have to try again to settle their FA Cup first round tie after the northern Lincolnshire rivals could not be separated at a packed Blundell Park.
In an entertaining cup tie between two well-matched sides, the Mariners gave a tremendous account of themselves against league opposition and created the better chances throughout.
Ross Hannah and the returning Lenell John-Lewis both went close in the first half but could not convert their opportunities in front of the passionate home crowd.
Scunthorpe came into the game in the latter stages of both halves but could not do enough to seriously trouble James McKeown in the Town goal.
And the goalless result means the two teams now face a replay at Glanford Park to decide who goes through to round two.
Town boss Paul Hurst sprung a surprise by naming John-Lewis in his starting XI after the striker proved his fitness ahead of the game.
He replaced Andy Cook, while Scott Neilson came in for Richie Jones as Hurst made two changes to the side that beat Woking last time out.
James McKeown began in goal, with Sam Hatton, Shaun Pearson, Clayton McDonald and Aswad Thomas forming the defence.
Joe Colbeck, Craig Disley, Scott Kerr and Scott Neilson were the midfielders, with John-Lewis lining up alongside Ross Hannah in attack.
Seven substitutes are allowed in the FA Cup, so Jonathan Hedge, Chris Doig, Cook, Liam Hearn, Paul Bignot, Alex Rodman and Paddy McLaughlin were all given places on the bench.
Scunthorpe boss Brian Laws took no chances, naming his strongest available line-up despite the Iron’s higher division status.
Leading goalscorer Sam Winnall would be among the players looking to cause problems for the Mariners defence, along with Dutchman Etienne Esajas, who came through the youth set-up at Ajax.
After a minute’s silence for remembrance weekend which as poorly observed by some sections of the crowd, the game kicked off in bright sunshine and Town had the first attack when Hannah almost got on the end of a header forward from John-Lewis. United keeper Sam Slocombe was alive to the danger though and came off his line to gather the ball.
A foul on David Mirfin gave Scunthorpe a free kick inside their own half on six minutes but Slocombe’s kick was headed out for a throw by Pearson.
Thomas conceded the game’s first corner two minutes later but Esajas’ delivery was headed away by Hatton and town broke through Neilson, who set off on a run down the right before hitting a cross that was taken by Slocombe.
Hannah was the next to have a chance when he was put through on goal on 10 minutes but his shot was blocked by the keeper and the rebound came back off the Town striker and rolled agonisingly wide.
John-Lewis was fouled by Mirfin on the halfway line to bring about another Town attack and a Colbeck shot soon afterwards was blocked by Luke Waterfall for a corner. This time, Kerr’s delivery was headed on by Pearson but Cliff Byrne got to it ahead of Hannah.
Town were piling the pressure on and another corner came when a header from McDonald had to be tipped over the bar by Slocombe.
Thomas beat Terry Hawkridge to get a cross over from the left on 17 minutes but John-Lewis could not get on the end of it and Scunthorpe survived again.
Another scare for the visitors came when Slocombe appeared to handle the ball outside his penalty area soon afterwards but neither referee David Coote nor his assistants spotted the infringement.
Esajas received the first booking for a foul on Colbeck just before the 20-minute mark but Kerr’s free kick was headed away by Waterfall.
Another foul on Colbeck earned Andy Dawson a talking-to by the referee and this time, Slocombe had to scoop the ball up after a McDonald header from Kerr’s free kick.
Scunthorpe attacks had been rare but a shot from Esajas led to a corner on the left on 25 minutes. John-Lewis headed it away but the away side worked the ball back and Winnall headed over the bar from 12 yards.
Colbeck fired well over the bar after a free kick for a foul on Thomas was half-cleared, before a floated cross from Thomas after good play by John-Lewis was caught by Slocombe.
Pearson had to step in ahead of Winnall as Scunthorpe looked to create a shooting chance with 32 minutes gone, as the Iron looked to be finding their way into the game.
Neilson was fouled by Byrne to give Town a free kick in a good position on the left two minutes later and Kerr’s free kick went straight through, with Slocombe forced to push it away for a corner. From it, John-Lewis headed over the bar.
The Mariners had a great chance to take the lead when Neilson took advantage of a mistake by Byrne and played a perfect pass through for John-Lewis but the striker could not hit the target, sending his shot over the bar.
Colbeck did well to chase back and challenge the pacy Esajas two minutes before the break at the expense of a corner, which was cleared.
More Scunthorpe pressure came after a push by Neilson gave the visitors a free kick but again, it caused no real problems for McKeown in the Town goal.
Three added minutes were signalled by the fourth official and Disley won a corner on the left in the first of them. Kerr’s delivery was met by Pearson, who headed over the bar and was forced off the field for treatment after colliding with Mirfin.
Town were looking nervy in defence as Scunthorpe controlled the remainder of the added time but the Mariners held out to preserve the goalless scoreline at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and Scunthorpe had the first attack of the second half when Esajas had a shot blocked.
A foul on John-Lewis by Mirfin gave Town a free kick midway inside the United half and Kerr’s delivery led to a scramble in front of goal before the away side cleared.
Town won a corner after Colbeck slid a ball through for Hannah but he was thwarted by Slocombe. Kerr’s delivery was headed down by Pearson, before McDonald headed over the bar.
Deon Burton replaced Jimmy Spencer up front for the away side on the hour and his first involvement was to challenge for a ball in the Grimsby box that was punched away by McKeown.
Soon afterwards, a ball came in from the Scunthorpe left and Winnall headed wide in front of the travelling supporters from North Lincolnshire.
A good chance for Town came when Neilson ran into the box before pulling the ball back for John-Lewis but his flick was cleared off the line by Dawson.
But Scunthorpe had a chance of their own when Winnall was fouled by McDonald near the left edge of the Grimsby box soon afterwards. Hawkridge played it low to Burton near the penalty spot but the striker scuffed his shot wide.
Hannah combined with Neilson on 67 minutes to create another opportunity for the hosts. The winger’s attempt was blocked before John-Lewis also saw a shot saved.
Esajas was forced to come off with an injury a minute later, with Matt Sparrow sent on for the visitors in his place.
He lasted only five minutes before going down with an injury himself, forcing Laws into using his third and final substitution to introduce Christian Ribeiro.
A cross from Thomas was headed over the bar by Disley as the Mariners continued to ask questions of the Scunthorpe defence.
Scunthorpe had a good passage of possession on 78 minutes, which led to Burton heading wide of McKeown’s goal.
Hawkridge was the next to try his luck as the visitors began to get on top slightly but the winger’s low, 25-yard shot was comfortable for the Grimsby keeper.
The Mariners made a double substitution with eight minutes to go, in an attempt to force a late breakthrough. Rodman replaced Neilson, with Hearn sent on in place of Hannah.
Scunthorpe won a corner with four minutes left, which quickly turned into another.
And the Iron pressure continued when a silly foul by Colbeck on Hawkridge gave them a free kick on the edge of the Town box. The former Gainsborough man’s delivery beat everybody and went out for a goal kick at the far post.
Four added minutes were signalled as both sides continued to look for a winning goal.
Scunthorpe nearly had that winner but a goal bound shot was blocked for a corner by Thomas and the ball from it was eventually hooked clear by Pearson.
Rodman fired a low shot that was comfortable for Slocombe, before a last-ditch Scunthorpe attack came to nothing and the referee’s whistle signalled the end of a hard-fought game.
Both sides will now enter tomorrow’s draw, while both sets of supporters will look forward to the replay in Scunthorpe, which is likely to be on Tuesday, November 19.