Lincoln City 1-1 Grimsby Town
TEN-man Grimsby Town came from behind to earn a draw against Lincoln City at Sincil Bank.
After a bright start to the game, the Mariners were put on the back foot when Josh Gowling, playing against his former club, was sent off following an off-the-ball incident and Lincoln striker Matt Rhead converted the resulting penalty.
But Town stuck to their task admirably and they made sure they would not go home empty-handed when Omar Bogle equalised in front of the 1,734 travelling supporters.
After that, Grimsby looked the more likely to force a winner but it was not to be, although they would be satisfied with a valuable point after playing more than an hour a man light.
Two changes were made to the Town starting XI after the home draw against Torquay last time out, with Danny East and Padraig Amond restored to the line-up in place of Toto Nsiala and Jack Mackreth.
James McKeown started in goal, with East, Shaun Pearson, Gowling and Gregor Robertson forming the defence.
Nathan Arnold, Craig Disley, Matt Robinson and Andy Monkhouse were the midfielders, with Amond alongside Bogle in attack.
Mackreth, Nsiala, Marcus Marshall, Craig Clay and Jon-Paul Pittman were the Grimsby substitutes.
Lincoln’s former Mariners striker Liam Hearn missed out after failing a pre-match fitness test, leaving Rhead as the hosts’ most likely goal threat. He lined up in a front three for the Imps, alongside Jack Muldoon and Conner Robinson.
Town were on the attack almost immediately when Arnold broke forwards and after finding Amond, both he and Bogle had shots blocked, the latter for a corner.
A second flag-kick came after Pearson was beaten to the ball and after the ball came across from the left, Lincoln failed to clear their lines and it bounced around inside the box until Pearson volleyed over the bar.
The Mariners had made a good start and they were given another opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone with a free kick on the right touchline, which led to Pearson heading over.
Lincoln’s first venture forward led to a corner after a long throw from the left was headed behind. The ball from the flag broke to Muldoon on the edge of the box but he fired over the bar.
Amond almost had a chance when poor defending by Nat Brown saw the ball come back to the Irish striker. The striker could not take advantage though, powering the ball across goal and out for a throw-in from a narrow angle.
Another chance came soon afterwards, when a Bogle cross was headed out as far as Monkhouse, who teed up Arnold to shoot just over the bar from 20 yards.
A Robertson free kick on 16 minutes was cleared after Bogle had been fouled on halfway and that signalled the start of a scrappy period of play, where neither side was able to keep the ball for any length of time.
The next Town chance came when Bogle played the ball through for striker-partner Amond but home keeper Paul Farman did well, coming off his line to block the striker’s shot for a throw-in.
Pearson was penalised for a push on Rhead on 28 minutes and from the resulting free kick came a potentially game-changing moment. Power sent the ball into the Town box and after it was cleared towards the corner flag on the Imps right, a home player went down after an off-the-ball incident and referee Simon Bennett pointed to the penalty spot before showing Gowling the red card. After a lengthy delay, RHEAD stepped up and sent McKown the wrong way to open the scoring.
Town’s response was to send Nsiala on in place of Robinson and the visitors almost had a chance on 38 minutes, when Amond was narrowly beaten to a header from a left-wing Robertson cross.
A cross from East on the opposite flank was headed behind for a corner three minutes later and Arnold’s ball was headed out for another flag-kick. This time, the ball was cleared and a foul by Amond on Muldoon relieved the pressure on the hosts, who were given a free kick.
A home corner came in the last minute of regulation time in the half after McKeown was adjudged not to have stopped the ball from going behind. It led to defender Luke Waterfall heading over the bar.
Four added minutes were signalled and a Town free kick came in the first of them, although Farman was adjudged to have been fouled as he came out to punch the ball clear.
No further chances came before the referee’s half-time whistle, meaning Lincoln held onto their narrow advantage going into the interval.
Neither manager opted to make any further changes before the restart and the first opportunity of the second half went the way of the Mariners, as Nsiala looped a header to keeper Farman from an East free kick.
Another free kick was given for a foul on Bogle inside the Lincoln half on 51 minutes and this time, it led to a corner on the left. Pearson was beaten to the header and the ball was then cleared by Wood.
Robertson won a corner on the left on 56 minutes as the Town pressure began to build but the kick did not lead to a goalscoring opportunity.
Former Scunthorpe midfielder Matt Sparrow replaced Muldoon for the hosts soon afterwards, with Town still searching for a way back into the game.
Disley was booked for a foul on Rhead, before Sparrow was also shown a yellow card for time-wasting. From the resulting free kick, the Mariners had their equaliser, as the ball broke for BOGLE and after getting it with his back to goal, he steered an acrobatic shot past Farman and into the net, in front of the travelling Town fans.
The visitors then immediately went in search of a second, with Amond unlucky not to get on the end of a ball from the right.
Alex Simons replaced Robinson for Lincoln on 69 minutes and soon afterwards, the hosts almost had their lead back when a loose ball let in Rhead and the ball was then taken on inside the box. East and McKeown almost got in each other’s way and the ball spun back agonisingly towards the goal line, only for the keeper to dive on it just in time.
Lee Beevers was booked for a foul on Boglr in front of the Town dugout but Arnold’s free kick drifted towards Farman, who caught it comfortably.
Amond sent a shot well over the bar after linking up with Bogle near the edge of the Lincoln penalty area with 12 minutes left to play.
Another free kick came for a foul on Bogle inside the centre circle but Nsiala could only head at Farman from Arnold’s delivery.
At the other end, Lincoln probably should have had their lead back when substitute Simmons had a clear chance but after finding space inside the box, he could only lift his effort over the bar.
Bogle then dragged a shot wide from 25 yards on 81 minutes after doing well to work a shooting opportunity from the right.
And the Mariners were almost ahead soon afterwards, when a great move eventually saw the ball worked to Disley, whose volley was well saved by Farman, at the expense of a corner.
Elliot Hodge came on for Alan Power for the hosts with four minutes left, before Simmons was denied by McKeown after shooting from the edge of the box.
At the other end, Bogle tried his luck from 30 yards but did not trouble Farman, as the ball cleared the stand behind his goal.
Mackreth and Pittman came on for Arnold and Bogle as the clock ticked towards added time, with Town boss Paul Hurst signalling his intent to push forward in search of all three points.
Three added minutes were then signalled and Monkhouse was beaten to a header from a cross after Pittman and Amond linked up on the right.
A Wood long throw from the right came to nothing at the other end and that proved to be the last action of the game, with both teams forced to settle for a point each.
Town are next in action on Monday, when Macclesfield Town are the visitors to Blundell Park.