GRIMSBY Town were forced to settle for a second consecutive goalless draw as Nuneaton Town earned a point at Blundell Park.
A Town side depleted by injuries and suspension started brightly before the visitors came into the game more as the game moved towards the interval.
The hosts did almost all of the attacking after the break as their visitors appeared content to sit back and play for a draw.
In a game of relatively few real chances, the best one fell for Lenell John-Lewis in the second half but he could not convert Craig Clay’s low cross.
Clay himself had been unlucky not to open the scoring beforehand, when his header was well saved by Nuneaton keeper Reice Charles-Cool on the stroke of half-time.
And despite the Mariners pushing for a winner, the visitors held on relatively comfortably to get their season up and running after defeat in their opening game.
The Grimsby line-up showed two changes from the goalless draw at Bristol Rovers in the season opener on Saturday.
Toto Nsiala started at centre-back in place of Chris Doig after missing the trip to the West Country through suspension, while Clay replaced winger Jack Mackreth.
James McKeown began in goal, with Carl Magnay, Andrew Boyce, Nsiala and Aswad Thomas forming the defence.
Clay, Craig Disley, Scott Brown, and Paddy McLaughlin were the midfielders, with Alan Connell again partnering John-Lewis in attack.
Town’s early-season injury and suspensions crisis meant it was a very youthful bench, with Ellis Humble, Callum Bastock, Paul Waloker, Caine Winfarrah and Lewis Bemrose all waiting in the wings.
Nuneaton made the journey from the West Midlands looking to improve on a 3-0 home defeat by promoted Eastleigh in their first game of the season.
Strikers Andrew Brown and Ben Hutchinson were the men charged with scoring the goals for Brian Reid’s side.
Town won an early free kick on the right when Brown was fouled but McLaughlin’s delivery was poor and the ball was cleared by defender Gavin Cowan.
The hosts were looking to play a patient, passing game in the early stages and they almost had a chance when Brown chipped the ball forward towards John-Lewis but visiting keeper Charles-Cook came off his line to win the challenge with the striker.
Another good move on seven minutes saw John-Lewis shoot from 20 yards but Charles-Cook got down to stop the effort, before also blocking Connell’s follow-up shot.
A late challenge by Brown gave the visitors on the right soon afterwards, although the delivery was comfortably headed clear by Disley.
Disley was brought down in a central position to give the Mariners another set-piece opportunity on 12 minutes but McLaughlin’s shot was weak and bounced wide.
A Magnay cross was hooked away for a Town corner as the home side continued to dominate the early stages but Brown’s flag-kick was headed over the bar by Nsiala.
The Mariners were forced into an early substitution when Thomas went off on the quarter-hour, to be replaced by Winfarrah.
Nuneaton’s first shot came soon afterwards through Andrew Brown, whose effort was saved by McKeown.
Hutchinson then headed wide from a right-wing cross as the visitors created another opportunity on 18 minutes.
McKeown was called into action for a second time to thwart Hutchinson after a cross from the left, before a Nuneaton corner from the right cleared everybody.
After an encouraging start from the hosts, Nuneaton had come into the game more as the half-hour approached, with Town showing less of a threat.
With the game in a quiet spell, another away corner on 34 minutes did not cause any problems for McKeown.
Grimsby were struggling to create anything of note at this point, with Nuneaton looking marginally the better side in attack although neither defence was being caused any danger.
That pattern of play continued up to the 45-minute mark but on the stroke of half-time, the Mariners almost took the lead when Clay rose to meet a cross and direct a header towards the far post. Keeper Charles-Cook was equal to it though, diving full-length to tip the ball away and keep the game goalless at the break.
No further changes were made before the restart and Town started the second half brightly, playing at a higher tempo and looking to attack.
But with the Mariners unable to create any early chances, Nuneaton were able to weather the storm and restore the level of comfort they had enjoyed earlier in the game.
The away side then came close to an opening goal when midfielder Jack Dyer tried his luck with a curling shot from 25 yards that went just over McKeown’s bar.
John-Lewis created Grimsby’s first opportunity of the half just before the hour, showing some strength to turn and get away from his man inside the penalty area before shooting off-target from a narrow angle.
Brown crashed a 25-yard shot over the bar soon afterwards, before John-Lewis won a corner on the right, which was headed clear by Anton Brown for Nuneaton.
The visitors were not showing much in attack, instead happy to sit back, defend and look to secure a point.
Winfarrah won a corner on the left but after the ball was punched by Charles-Cook, Disley’s shot was wayward and the ball was adjudged to have gone out of play before it could be retrieved by Winfarrah.
An excellent chance for the Mariners to break the deadlock came when Connell found Clay on the right and his low cross fell for John-Lewis, unmarked and in a central position. The striker could not convert the chance though, instead firing over the bar.
James Armson came on for Hutchinson in the Nuneaton attack with a little under 20 minutes left on the clock.
Another Grimsby corner came on 75 minutes and the ball from the right flag was met by Nsiala but his header was deflected onto the bar and out for another corner. This time, the big defender’s header went away from goal.
Town continued to attack and they had the ball inside the Nuneaton box soon afterwards but nobody in black and white could force it goal wards and Charles-Cook eventually dealt with the danger.
A foul on Connell gave the Mariners a free kick in a central position, 25 yards from goal, with 79 minutes on the clock. Connell stepped up to take the kick but his shot flew well over the bar.
Two minutes later, John-Lewis had another chance when the ball came to him inside the box and he hit a first-time shot that looked to be creeping towards the bottom corner until keeper Charles-Cook got down to stop it.
The keeper was called into action again to scramble the ball away after Nsiala’s header from a Winfarrah free kick as Town kept pushing for a late winner.
A Nuneaton free kick given for a foul by Magnay gave them a chance to snatch all three points but the shot was comfortably held by McKeown.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the game and Town kept pushing for that elusive winning goal but they were unable to break the deadlock and were left with a second successive 0-0.
The mariners are next in action when Dover Athletic visit Blundell Park on Saturday.
Catch the highlights on Mariners Player later.