Grimsby Town 0-0 Boreham Wood
GRIMSBY Town were held to a goalless draw by struggling Boreham Wood at Blundell Park.
On a frustrating afternoon for the Mariners, they dominated possession but were unable to find a way through the visitors’ defence.
Town looked to be struggling with the windy conditions in a first half where the away side showed some promising signs on the break.
But after the interval, the hosts did almost all of the attacking, although they were ultimately unable to make a breakthrough.
Just one change was made to the Town starting line-up after the midweek victory at Bromley, as Jon-Paul Pittman was rewarded for scoring the winner in that game with a place in the XI.
James McKeown started in goal, with Richard Tait, Toto Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Evan Horwood forming the defence.
Nathan Arnold, Craig Disley, Jon Nolan and Andy Monkhouse were the midfielders, while Pittman was joined in attack by Padraig Amond.
That meant Omar Bogle had to settle for a place on the bench, alongside Shaun Pearson, Craig Clay, Conor Henderson and new signing Anthony Straker.
Boreham Wood travelled north looking for a win which could take them out of the National League relegation zone, depending on other results.
But despite their lowly position in the table, the Wood came into the game with one of the best defensive records in the division.
The visitors registered the first shot on target within 30 seconds of the kick-off, as a 25-yard effort from midfielder Connor Clifford was caught by McKeown.
Defender Joe Devera was the next to try his luck from distance but his shot flew well off-target.
At the other end, the Mariners’ first attack of note came on four minutes and led to Amond heading at visiting keeper James Russell after a cross from Horwood on the left.
A foul by Nolan on Sam Cox in the centre circle gave the away side an opportunity to get the ball into the Town box but Clifford’s delivery beat everybody and went out for a goal kick.
The first corner came on 12 minutes after a Tait cross was deflected behind but Arnold’s low ball from the flag was cleared from danger.
The best chance of the game so far came when a good header from Nolan put Pittman into the penalty area. He then pulled the ball back for Arnold, whose first-time shot was well-blocked by Russell for a corner.
Town were starting to get on top by the 15-minute mark, with some promising moves coming down the right, albeit without causing any real problems for the Boreham Wood defence.
That pattern of play continued, with the hosts dominating possession but both teams struggling to contend with a strong wind blowing down the pitch towards the Pontoon Stand.
An opportunity for the away side came on 28 minutes, when Anthony Jeffrey showed his pace to get down the left and cut in before firing a cross-shot that McKeown had to push away, before another shot from Jeffrey was also blocked.
Disley went down injured after conceding a foul for a high foot in a challenge with Cox but Clifford slipped as he took the resulting free kick.
A low shot by Amond after a cross from Pittman on 34 minutes was comfortable for Russell, before another good move down the right eventually led to a Town corner. This time, Pittman got his head to Arnold’s delivery but the ball went through to the keeper.
Another corner, this time on the left, came when a Horwood cross was deflected out of play four minutes before the break. It was headed clear by Lucas.
Soon afterwards, a looping cross by Arnold led to another corner when Gowling’s header went out via a defender. This time, Russell got to the ball and pushed it away from immediate danger, before it was hooked clear.
Boreham Wood, with the wind at their backs, were showing signs of danger on the break, with the pace of Jeffrey and Ricky Shakes being used to good effect, although the final ball was often lacking for the Hertfordshire side.
One added minute was signalled at the end of the half and there was time for another Town chance, as Arnold cut in from the right but sent a low shot wide of the near post.
That meant it remained goalless at the interval, with the Mariners having most of the possession but Boreham Wood perhaps looking the brighter in attack.
No changes were made before the restart and there was almost an early chance for the Mariners after the ball was headed forward by Pittman but Nolan couldn’t quite bring it under control inside the box.
Lucas had a headed chance at the other end three minutes in after Jeffrey’s ball found him near the penalty spot but his effort was tame and caused no problems for McKeown.
A cross from Jeffrey soon afterwards was caught by McKeown and he quickly turned defence into attack with a long pass to Amond the other side of the halfway line. That attack eventually led to Pittman getting the ball but his attempted pass through for Amond had too much on it and went out for a goal kick.
Tait hit a shot from the edge of the box that flew off-target, before a cross-shot from Monkhouse also resulted in a goal kick, with 52 minutes on the clock.
A free kick came for the Mariners when Arnold was brought down by Jeffrey just inside the Boreham Wood half but Tait’s driven ball from it was headed out for a corner. Disley met Arnold’s flag-kick but his far-post header went across goal.
Nsiala was shown the yellow card soon afterwards for a foul on Luke Howell but Gowling got to Clifford’s free kick first and headed the ball clear.
Town were still struggling to make an impression in front of goal and with 25 minutes to go, manager Paul Hurst opted to make a double change, with Bogle and Straker replacing Pittman and Arnold.
The visitors created a good opportunity to take the lead on 68 minutes when Howell raced into the box but after coming under pressure from Nsiala, he could only lift a shot over the bar.
Bogle then hit a snap-shot on the turn after the ball came to him from a left-wing Monkhouse cross but Russell was not called into action as it went high over the bar.
Delano Sam-Yorke replaced Lucas in attack for the visitors with just under 20 minutes left, before Nolan fired a first-time shot wide from the edge of the box after the ball had dropped for him.
Disley was booked for a high foot in a challenge on the halfway line, before Nolan was also shown a yellow card for sliding into a challenge late near the edge of the Boreham Wood penalty area.
Monkhouse won a corner on the left as Grimsby kept searching for a breakthrough goal but it did not come, as two Mariners players headed the ball on before Russell gathered it underneath his bar.
Another corner came when Tait’s cross was blocked after a neat pass from Straker. This time, Straker’s low ball from the right flag was cleared at the near post.
A driving run from Nolan through the middle also came to nothing with nine minutes remaining, with Town still pushing for an opening goal.
A free kick two minutes later was cleared as far as Horwood, who hit a powerful low shot from 25 yards that Russell did well to get down and save, before getting back up to brilliantly block the rebound from close range.
Straker won a corner on the right on 86 minutes but it was headed clear and when Tait put the ball back into the box, it was caught by Russell.
The third and final Grimsby substitution saw Clay come on in place of Horwood with two minutes left.
It came as Town were doing all of the attacking, mindful of the importance of earning all three points but so far unable to breach the Boreham Wood defence.
The visitors had not been able to build many attacks of their own in the later stages of the game but they were given a good position with a free kick midway inside the Town half, which was headed clear by Bogle.
Four added minutes were signalled and in the last of them, a free kick from Tait was cleared and Boreham Wood looked to launch a quick break. In the end, a good challenge by Disley on Sam-Yorke meant it remained honours even as the referee’s final whistle blew.
The result meant Town slipped further behind the top two of Cheltenham and Forest Green, who both won.
The Mariners are next in action when they visit Halifax Town on Saturday