Guiseley 2-2 Grimsby Town
GRIMSBY Town twice fought back from behind but were ultimately unable to collect all three points as Guiseley earned a share of the spoils at Nethermoor.
The home side took an early lead through ex-Mariners defender Rob Atkinson but captain Craig Disley headed Paul Hurst’s men back on level terms.
Town had the better of things up to the interval but after the restart, another early goal saw the West Yorkshire side regain their advantage, with Nicky Boshell the man on-target.
Again, Grimsby were not behind for long, as Padraig Amond notched his 30th goal of the season to restore parity.
Both sides had chances to win the game but none were taken, meaning Town missed the chance to move three points closer to the National League’s top two of Cheltenham Town and Forest Green Rovers.
Two changes were made to the Mariners side that won their previous league game against Southport, with Shaun Pearson returning in place of Toto Nsiala and Ryan Jennings coming in for the injured Andy Monkhouse.
That meant five alterations from the FA Trophy semi-final first leg at Bognor Regis on Saturday, as goalkeeper James McKeown started behind a defence of Richard Tait, Pearson, Josh Gowling and Evan Horwood.
Nathan Arnold, Disley, Jon Nolan and Jennings were the midfielders, with Amond and Patrick Hoban again selected as the strikers.
The Grimsby subs were Gregor Robertson, Omar Bogle, Craig Clay, Nsiala and Danny East.
Guiseley were looking to remain unbeaten against the Mariners this season, having secured a 1-1 draw when the two sides met at Blundell Park in January.
As well as Atkinson, their side also included another former Grimsby player in the shape of midfielder Danny Boshell, who joined his brother in the starting XI.
Town started promisingly and won the game’s opening corner on three minutes, which was cleared.
Nolan then had an effort saved by home keeper Daniel Atkinson with his feet, although this time, the resulting corner went across the six-yard box and out for a goal kick.
But when the opening goal came on six minutes, it was the hosts who took the lead. A corner from the right was headed towards goal by ATKINSON and after McKeown could only parry the ball, the defender was there to put the rebound into the net from close range.
Town’s response saw a free kick headed out for a goal kick, before their next attack saw Hoban take the ball towards the penalty area before an attempted cross from Tait was blocked.
Arnold set off on a run on 13 minutes but his shot from 25 yards was saved by keeper Atkinson, before Amond was flagged offside from the rebound.
Tait won a corner on the right on 19 minutes but the ball from the flag was headed clear. Town retained possession though, and the move eventually led to the equalising goal. Nolan picked the ball up in midfield and he found Jennings, whose cross was headed into the top corner of the net by DISLEY.
A foul by Jennings on Oliver Norburn gave the home side a free kick midway inside the Town half six minutes later but the ball from it was headed through to McKeown.
Another opening almost came for Guiseley just before the half-hour but Jake Lawlor’s ball looking for striker Adam Boyes instead ran through to McKeown.
Ex-Town midfielder Boshell was forced off with an injury soon afterwards, with Will Hatfield sent on in his place.
Nolan was fouled to bring about a Grimsby free kick midway inside the Guiseley half on 34 minutes and from it, the ball was worked to Jennings, who flashed an effort wide of the mark from 25 yards.
Another Jennings shot was blocked soon afterwards, before a quickly-taken free kick for the hosts led to an effort going wide.
A Town free kick taken by Nolan led to another chance, although Pearson’s back-header dropped wide for a goal kick.
The Mariners were doing most of the attacking and a drilled shot from Nolan was deflected away for a corner. From the flag, Town were inches away from taking the lead, when a header from Hoban hit the bar and was adjudged not to have crossed the line.
Jennings missed the target with another shot on 42 minutes as the visitors aimed to force a second goal before half-time.
Two added minutes were signalled to be played at the end of the half and a break by the Mariners led to Jennings cutting into the box twice, although he had to settle for a corner. From the flag, Disley sent a header off-target.
That proved to be the last opportunity for either side to add to their score before the break, meaning the teams went into the dressing rooms level.
No further changes were made before the restart and the first openings of the second half went to the away side, with Arnold, Hoban and Tait all sending early crosses into the box.
A Town corner was headed clear, before Gowling picked the ball up on the left side but sent his shot off-target.
At the other end, Boyes drew a good save from McKeown after he got away from Gowling and shot from close range.
But Town’s luck was not to last, as Guiseley regained their advantage on 50 minutes. A shot from distance was not held by McKeown and BOSHELL tucked the rebound away to make it 2-1.
Town were only behind for four minutes though, as their top scorer struck to get them back on level terms once more. A cross from Horwood on the left found AMOND and he powered a header past Atkinson to reach 30 goals for the season.
Guiseley were given an opportunity to snatch their lead back again with a free kick in a shooting position but James Hurst wasted it, firing well off-target.
Another free kick followed soon afterwards but again, the hosts could not profit, with Norburn seeing his shot deflected wide for a goal kick.
Arnold won a corner after a good challenge by Nolan had stopped a Guiseley break two minutes after the hour. The flag-kick found Disley but his header went just over the bar.
A ball into the Town box on 66 minutes found Boyes but the Town defence got it away for a corner, which came to nothing.
Norburn was replaced by Oli Johnson for Guiseley soon afterwards, before Town’s first change saw Bogle sent on for Hoban.
Bogle’s first action saw him control the ball well and find Arnold, although the winger’s through-ball found Amond in an offside position.
A run by Arnold then took him from the left into the penalty area but instead of looking for Bogle, he shot and the ball was held by Atkinson.
Town continued to attack and a shot from Bogle was deflected behind for a corner, which was headed narrowly over the bar by Gowling.
Guiseley were also showing signs that they too were capable of forcing a winning goal and they fired another warning to the Mariners when Boshell hit an effort just wide on 75 minutes.
Boyes was the next to be replaced, with Emile Sinclair coming on as the home side’s third and final substitute.
Bogle had a shot blocked, before Jennings won a corner with seven minutes to go. The ball came towards Disley but he could not get a shot in and it was cleared.
A free kick gave Town a chance to get the ball into the danger zone again but Nolan’s delivery beat everybody and went out for a goal kick.
McKeown got to the ball first after Ryan Toulson had sent a dangerous-looking cross into the box with two minutes to go, as home attackers waited to pounce.
Bogle then managed to get on the end of a cross at the other end but could not make it count, as keeper Atkinson held the ball.
Two added minutes were signalled, with both teams still pushing for a winner.
But in the end, they had to settle for a point apiece, as the Mariners were left to reflect on a missed opportunity to claw three points back on the top two.
Next up for Town is the second leg of their FA Trophy semi-final, with Bognor Regis Town the visitors to Blundell Park on Saturday