Grimsby Town 2-2 Torquay
GRIMSBY Town came from two goals down to earn a draw with Torquay United at Blundell Park.
The visitors were the better side during the first half and they were rewarded with a 2-0 half-time lead as Joe Quigley’s opener was added to by an own-goal from new Town loan signing Matt Robinson.
But Town fought their way back into the contest after the break and they were back within a goal when Robinson made it 2-1.
After that, Torquay dropped further back and the Mariners took full advantage, as substitute Padraig Amond levelled the scores and ensured it would not be two defeats in a row.
Paul Hurst made four changes to his starting XI after the midweek loss to Altrincham ended Town’s unbeaten start to the season.
Gregor Robertson was fit to start for the first time this campaign, while Matt Robinson was given his Grimsby debut after completing a temporary switch from Luton and Shaun Pearson and Jack Mackreth were both recalled.
They came in for Danny East, Craig Clay, Amond and Richard Tait, the first three of whom were given places on the bench.
James McKeown started in goal, with Toto Nsiala on the right of the back four as Pearson, Josh Gowling and Robertson made up the defence.
Mackreth started on the right wing, with Robinson partnering Craig Disley in the centre of midfield and Andy Monkhouse keeping his place on the left as Nathan Arnold moved to join Omar Bogle up front.
Amond, Clay and East were joined on a stronger looking Town bench by the fit-again Marcus Marshall and Jon-Paul Pittman.
Torquay made the long journey from the south coast looking to repeat their victory at Blundell Park from last season and improve on an early-season record of two wins and two defeats so far.
Away captain Exodus Geohaghon saw an early long throw headed clear by Gowling and he was involved again at the other end soon afterwards, making sure Bogle did not get to a through-ball from Disley.
McKeown had to come off his line to block striker Alex Fisher as Torquay were the first side to create an opening after a quiet first 10 minutes.
The first corner then came at the other end as Dan Butler thwarted Bogle after a quick break by the Mariners. Arnold’s delivery to the far post beat everybody though, and the ball was brought clear by Butler.
After a scrappy start, Town were now trying to play more football and a good passing move led to Mackreth shooting from 25 yards on 15 minutes. His effort lacked the power to seriously trouble Torquay keeper Fabian Spiess, who made a comfortable stop.
But the visitors had been the better side over the first part of the game and they took the lead on 18 minutes. A deep cross from James Hurst on the right was headed into the net by QUIGLEY at the far post.
The Mariners had yet to impose themselves on the game and looked a different side to the one that had played free-flowing football in their home wins against Barrow and Bromley.
Another opportunity for the visitors came with a free kick on the right, which led to Geohaghan flicking a header wide.
An early Grimsby substitution was made on 23 minutes, as East replaced Nsiala.
A minute later, the Mariners had a corner on the left and Disley got up to meet Arnold’s ball but could only head it over the bar.
A solo run by East formed Town’s next attack, as the substitute advanced through the middle before shooting at Spiess from 30 yards.
The hosts were struggling to create openings as giant centre-backs Geohaghan and Angus McDonald were winning everything in the air for Torquay, as the visitors looked relatively comfortable with the advantage at the half-hour.
And things got better for the away side – and worse for the Mariners – on 32 minutes. The long throw of Geohaghan had been Torquay’s main attacking weapon and it led to a second goal when a throw towards the penalty spot flicked off the head of ROBINSON and into the net for an own goal.
The Mariners nearly pulled a goal back almost immediately, as Robinson hit a cross towards the far post from the right. Monkhouse and Arnold both appeared to go for the same ball though, and the latter sent it flying over the bar.
Hurst had to put the ball over his own bar for a Town corner after a good passing move led to Mackreth crossing from the right. But they could not make the most of the flag-kick, as the referee blew for a Torquay free kick as Arnold sent the ball in from the left.
McKeown had to dive to stop a long-range shot from Simon Heslop, before another run by East saw him win a corner on the left, which was cleared after a handball shout from the home fans against defender Nathan Smith.
A quick break by the visitors led to a foul on Heslop just outside the Grimsby penalty area but the resulting free kick was fired over McKeown’s bar.
Torquay were looking good value for their 2-0 lead as the Mariners had turned in a disjointed first-half performance.
The hosts were given an additional two minutes at the end of the half to try and halve the deficit but they were unable to do so, leaving themselves with a mountain to climb after the break if they were to get anything out of the game.
No further changes were made before the restart and a late challenge by Hurst on Disley brought about an early free kick. That allowed Town to get the ball deep into the Torquay half and the home side kept possession until a volley from Monkhouse clipped the top of the bar on its way over.
Arnold turned and shot from 25 yards after receiving a pass from Robinson but his effort was always rising and keeper Spiess watched it drop into the Pontoon Stand.
A low cross from Bogle on the left then evaded the run of Disley and Spiess was able to stop the ball.
Bogle was pushed to give the Mariners a free kick 25 yards from goal on 59 minutes. Amond replaced Mackreth before it was taken, then Bogle stepped up and shot but his effort hit the side-netting.
Torquay had been quieter as an attacking force after the interval but they did have an opening through Heslop on 65 minutes, although McKeown made a comfortable save.
A chipped free kick from Arnold was headed clear, before the ball was worked back and Pearson eventually shot wide.
Town were back in the game soon afterwards though, as they halved the deficit to one goal. ROBINSON was the man on the scoresheet, hitting a low, 25-yard shot that seemed to bounce in front of Spiess, who could not stop it from finding the net.
Tyrone Marsh replaced Fisher for Torquay on 70 minutes, with the Mariners now rejuvenated and looking for an equaliser.
A foul on Disley earned midfielder Josh Carmichael a yellow card, before Town won another corner on the left that was punched clear by Spiess.
The Mariners kept pushing forward as their visitors dropped further and further back and with 11 minutes left, they had their equaliser. A cross from East on the right was met by AMOND, who headed past Spiess and into the net for 2-2.
Louis Briscoe replaced Quigley and Shepherd Murombedzi came on for Carmichael as Torquay boss Paul Cox made a double substitution in a bid to wrestle the advantage back again.
Grimsby’s final change saw Marshall replace Monkhouse with seven minutes left and the home side kept attacking in search of what had seemed an unlikely winner.
Five added minutes were signalled at the end of the half, with the result still in the balance but the Mariners looking the more likely to grab a decisive goal.
A foul on Arnold in the last of those added minutes gave Town an opportunity to win the game with a free kick just outside the Torquay box. Arnold chipped it to the far post but Gowling was beaten to the header and the match finished all-square.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Lincoln City.