Grimsby Town 0 - 0 Gateshead
GRIMSBY Town and Gateshead will have to try again to settle their FA Trophy tie after a goalless draw at Blundell Park.
The Mariners created the better chances on a windy afternoon in Cleethorpes but they were unable to find a breakthrough.
Gateshead had fewer opportunities on one of Town keeper James McKeown’s quieter afternoons and it was the hosts who pushed for a winner in the closing stages of the game.
But they could not break their visitors down and the teams will now face a replay at the International Stadium.
Four changes were made to the Town side after the home defeat by Macclesfield last time out.
They included a debut for new loan signing Oliver Palmer, who replaced Jon-Paul Pittman in attack.
The other alterations saw Carl Magnay, Toto Nsiala and Craig Disley all return to the starting line-up, with Aswad Thomas, Paul Bignot and Jack Mackreth all making way.
McKeown started in goal, with Daniel Parslow, Nsiala, Shaun Pearson and Magnay forming the defence.
Disley, Clay and Scott Brown were the midfielders, with Nathan Arnold taking up a more advanced central position and Lenell John-Lewis partnering Palmer up front.
Mackreth and Pittman were named as substitutes, along with Paul Walker, Paddy McLaughlin and Hamish Watson.
Gateshead named former Grimsby favourite John Oster among their starting XI, while Matty Pattison, Jon Shaw and Rob Ranshaw would be looking to cause the home defence problems in a three-man attack.
The game kicked off in windy conditions and John-Lewis had an early attempt blocked on the edge of the box, before Brown sent a cross out of play.
Defender Valentin Gjokaj had to head the ball out for the first corner to stop Palmer meeting a cross from Arnold on the right on three minutes but no danger came from the flag.
A flicked header by John-Lewis sent Palmer through down the middle on seven minutes but the striker was unable to create a shooting opportunity as Gateshead captain Ben Clark got back and a free kick was eventually given to the visitors for a foul by Clay.
The away side’s first chance of the game saw Jamie Chandler’s shot pushed away by McKeown, while Magnay looped a cross into Gateshead keeper Adam Bartlett’s arms at the other end.
A foul by Magnay gave Gateshead a free kick on the right on 17 minutes but Pattison’s delivery went through to McKeown in the Town goal.
A late challenge by Shaw on Pearson led to the striker being shown the first yellow card of the afternoon, with the game otherwise short on notable action.
Palmer won a corner for the Mariners on 21 minutes but Arnold’s ball was cleared after it had been headed back across goal by Pearson. Town kept possession though and they worked the ball back for Arnold to cross from the left, which led to Brown heading over the bar.
A good passage of play from the visitors followed but again, McKeown remained untroubled as a cross from the left landed on the roof of his net.
Matty Robson fouled Clay on 25 minutes, giving Arnold an opportunity to get the ball into the box from the right. But the free kick did not lead to any danger for keeper Bartlett, as Nsiala headed the ball out for a goal kick from the edge of the penalty area.
Another Arnold corner from the left was headed back to him before the return ball was headed over the bar by right-back Andrai Jones, although the referee thought it had come off John-Lewis and gave a goal kick.
Perhaps the best chance of the game so far came just after the half-hour, when Magnay passed to Arnold inside the Gateshead box and he let the ball run before turning and firing a low shot just past Bartlett’s far post.
Shaw was given a warning by the referee after a foul on Magnay on halfway and it signalled the start of a period of Grimsby possession that ended when Arnold let fly from 30 yards with a shot that went over the bar.
Another opportunity for the Mariners came when Brown found Clay on the right eight minutes before the break. He played the ball towards Arnold near the penalty spot but he missed his kick and it was eventually cleared.
The next home attack came soon afterwards and saw Magnay chip the ball into the box from the left. Palmer tried to get on the end of it but Bartlett did well to come off his line and make the block.
Oster and Turnbull combined to set Ranshaw away down the left for Gateshead and he won a corner, which led to a shot being cleared off the line.
At the other end, Arnold set off on a run through the middle on 44 minutes but John-Lewis could not control his pass.
One added minute was signalled by the fourth official as Disley headed over the bar after meeting a ball from the right.
That proved to be the last chance of a first half which had been low on genuine chances for either side, although both would be looking to step up a gear after the interval.
Craig Baxter and Michael Rankine replaced Shaw and Robson for Gateshead before the restart.
The first Grimsby attack of the second half came three minutes in and saw Brown hit a low shot that was comfortable for Bartlett after the former Southport midfielder had got the ball from Palmer.
At the other end, a good tackle by Nsiala denied Chandler as he shaped to shoot from inside the box.
A Town corner from Arnold was met by Pearson and his header looked set to give the hosts the lead until it was headed off the line by Chandler.
Another chance came on 57 minutes when John-Lewis took the ball in midfield and sent Arnold through down the middle. Arnold advanced into the box but could only shoot at keeper Bartlett.
Gateshead were seeing plenty of the ball without really doing anything to worry the Town defence and that continued when a free kick was headed out by Nsiala before Disley completed the clearance.
Arnold was involved again for the Mariners when he worked a shooting opportunity but fired tamely wide at the near post.
And another chance to get the ball into the danger zone came with a left-wing corner, which resulted in Palmer heading wide at the far post.
A foul by Disley gave Gateshead a free kick in the Town half on 67 minutes and Phil Turnbull’s kick looked to be dangerous but when it was met by Clark, the offside flag went up against the centre-back, who headed over the bar in any case.
A cross from Disley on the right fell for Palmer on 72 minutes but he could only send a header through to Bartlett.
That proved to be the Mansfield loanee’s last action on his Mariners debut, with Pittman replacing Palmer a minute later.
Chandler fired over the bar on 75 minutes as Gateshead looked to be getting on top in the game, albeit with McKeown still having a quiet afternoon between the Town sticks.
John-Lewis was unlucky not to get to a loose ball ahead of Bartlett after a back-pass from Rankine proved to be short but the keeper raced off his line to get there first.
Soon afterwards, Parslow went down inside the box and there were faint shouts for a penalty but the referee ruled there had not been a push on the Town man and the game continued.
Arnold did well to win a corner after chasing down a long ball by Pittman but the Mariners were unable to cause significant problems from the flag.
Another home corner came with three minutes to go and McLaughlin replaced Brown before it was taken. Arnold’s delivery was then headed away.
The tie now appeared to be heading towards a replay, which neither side would have wanted, and Town pushed forward in a bid to settle the matter once and for all.
Another Town corner from the left was headed away, before the fourth official’s board went up to indicate an additional two minutes.
Mackreth replaced Arnold for the Mariners, while Lewis Guy came on for Oster for the visitors as the clock ticked down.
Town kept pushing forward but they could not break the deadlock and the game ended goalless.
The replay will be played on Wednesday, with a 7.45pm kick-off, before the Mariners return to league action at home to Barnet on Saturday lunchtime.