Wrexham 0-0 Grimsby Town
GRIMSBY Town registered their first clean sheet of the season as they held Wrexham to a goalless draw at the Racecourse Ground.
The Mariners were forced to defend for long periods but an excellent display by goalkeeper James McKeown and a series of missed chances for the hosts ensured they became the first side this season to return from north Wales with a point.
Town had the ball in the net through Craig Disley in the closing stages of the game but the goal was ruled out for offside.
And although Wrexham pushed hard for a winning goal, Grimsby held firm and kept their hosts out.
Two changes were made to the Town side that drew with Tranmere Rovers on Friday, with Nathan Arnold and Jon-Paul Pittman the two to miss out.
Their places were taken by Jack Mackreth and Ben Tomlinson, who made his first start since joining the club on loan from Barnet.
McKeown started in goal, with the back four of Danny East, Toto Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Gregor Robertson being left unchanged.
Mackreth began on the right wing, with Disley and Craig Clay continuing as the central midfield partnership and Andy Monkhouse keeping his place on the left.
Tomlinson was partnered by Omar Bogle in attack, with Pittman joined on the bench by Padraig Amond, Shaun Pearson, Marcus Marshall and Matt Robinson.
Wrexham included former Grimsby players Connor Jennings and Jamal Fyfield in their starting XI, with the home side looking to continue a 100 per cent win record in north Wales so far this season.
An early East cross was headed away from danger, before the former Portsmouth defender was involved at the other end with a header of his own to ensure a Wrexham cross did not find its target.
Bogle looked to find Disley as the Mariners attacked on eight minutes but his ball was just too far ahead of the midfielder and a defender got to it first.
Bogle won the first corner of the game two minutes later but Mackreth could not find a team-mate from it, as the ball was headed clear at the near post.
Jennings then had Wrexham’s first shot of the game but did not call McKeown into action as the ball went wide.
A Wrexham corner came on 17 minutes but Town dealt with the danger, as a shot from Jennings was blocked.
Town won a free kick for a foul on Mackreth but they, too, could not profit from it, as Clay lost possession and the hosts looked to start an attack of their own.
East was spoken to by the referee after a foul on Dominic Vose around the 20-minute mark and the resulting Wrexham free kick led to a corner, which was headed away by Nsiala.
The home side kept possession though and they had another corner soon afterwards. Vose took it and the move saw Jennings chip a ball towards the far post, which proved too strong for any home attacker.
Wrexham were doing most of the attacking, as Town were being forced to absorb pressure from their hosts.
Rob Evans was shown the first yellow card of the night for a two-footed tackle on Bogle just inside the Wrexham half on 25 minutes. Robertson’s kick was headed on by Nsiala but was then cleared.
A chance for the hosts came soon afterwards, when Wes York broke after Town lost possession and after an attempted clearance ricocheted off Disley, Evans fired over the bar.
Bogle went on the attack after Fyfield gave away possession but after cutting in, he was unable to profit after defender Blaine Hudson recovered from a slip and made a block.
Gowling was booked for a foul on Evans on the half-hour but the resulting free kick caused no problems for McKeown as it sailed harmlessly over his bar.
Vose hit a shot that went off-target on 35 minutes, before Monkhouse became the latest name to go into the referee’s notebook for a foul soon afterwards.
Another Vose shot came in on 38 minutes and it was blocked for a corner, which was headed away by Nsiala. Adriano Moke sent the ball back into the box but it was comfortably caught by McKeown.
At the other end, Mackreth went on a run and fired a cross that was deflected wide by Hudson for a corner. It eventually led to Tomlinson shooting but his attempt was blocked.
A free kick for a foul on Bogle by Hudson did not lead to an impression being made in front of goal, as the pattern of neither keeper being called into serious action continued.
A home corner was initially dealt with in the final minute of the half, before it came back to the taker, Vose, and his cross-shot was narrowly missed by Hudson, who attempted a diving header.
Two added minutes were signalled and Town had a chance on the first of them, as Tomlinson was denied by home keeper Cameron Belford, who saved it with his knees.
That meant it remained level at the break, with Town coming into the game more in the later stages of the half.
No changes were made before the restart and Wrexham had the first attack of the second half, which ended with Jennings lifting an effort high over the bar.
Evans almost took advantage of a short pass by Robertson but he could not make anything of the opportunity and the game stayed goalless.
A home corner was dealt with by the Mariners and they launched a counter-attack, with Mackreth finding Clay. The midfielder could not hit the target with his shot.
At the other end, Sean Newton flashed a shot just past McKeown’s post, with the keeper only seeing it late.
Jennings hit another shot high and wide, before Nsiala had to concede a corner as the home pressure began to build with 55 minutes on the clock.
Robertson was penalised for a foul on the halfway line and after the free kick was half-cleared by the Mariners, the ball was played back into the box but it proved to be too far ahead of Jennings.
Another Wrexham corner came after Nsiala headed a cross away and after the defender dealt with the initial ball from the flag, the follow-up cross was caught by McKeown.
A foul by Disley on Jennings gave the home side another free kick and a further opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone, although it came to nothing.
Town had a rare chance to attack just before the hour but Tomlinson failed to find Bogle and the chance was gone.
Disley was yellow-carded for a foul soon afterwards and before the resulting free kick was taken, Adam Smith replaced York for Wrexham.
When it was taken, the hosts were inches away from taking the lead but the shot from the edge of the box was brilliantly saved by McKeown, who got fingertips to it to turn it onto the bar. The rebound was put into the net by James Gray but the goal was ruled out for offside.
At the other end, a cross by Robertson was deflected out of play for a corner but Mackreth’s kick was punched clear by Belford.
A mistake by Nsiala let Jennings in on 65 minutes but again, he was not made to pay as the attacker sent it over the bar.
Gray flicked the ball over the bar at the near post from Wrexham’s next attack, which started after Town gave the ball away.
Substitute Smith was the next to go forward for the Welsh side but his cross-shot was saved by McKeown, who also managed to prevent the ball from going out for a corner.
Robertson had to head a cross clear as the Wrexham pressure continued, with the Mariners struggling to make any impression in attack.
Town boss Paul Hurst made a double substitution with 15 minutes to go, in an attempt to change the course of the game. Bogle was replaced by Pittman, while Marshall came on in place of Tomlinson and the formation switched to 4-5-1.
After having to defend for the majority of the half, the Mariners had the ball in the net through Disley with 12 minutes to go but any thoughts of celebration were abruptly ended by the offside flag.
Another promising passage from the visitors led to Clay having a chance after good work by Marshall but the midfielder delayed his shot and the opportunity was lost.
Town were having a good spell and they were given another chance to put pressure on the home goal with a free kick on 81 minutes, although they could not make it count.
Jennings missed the target again for the hosts a minute later, before Clay failed to find Mackreth at the other end on 86 minutes.
Grimsby were starting to pass the ball more as the clock ticked down but Wrexham were still pushing hard for a winning goal.
A foul by Mackreth gave the home side a free kick as the game moved into two minutes of added time but the ball to the near post by Moke was headed away from danger by Disley.
Another free kick came on the halfway line in the first of the added minutes but McKeown came out to catch the ball and ease the pressure.
That proved to be the last chance of the game, meaning it ended without a goal.
Town are next in action when they travel to Southport on Saturday