MARCUS Bignot’s first league game in charge of Grimsby Town ended in a draw after Barnet came from two goals down to claim a share of the spoils on a dramatic afternoon at Blundell Park.
The Mariners looked to be on their way to all three points when Omar Bogle’s first-half double gave them a commanding lead at the break.
But the visitors fought back, with two goals from the penalty spot by League Two’s top scorer John Akinde levelling the scores.
Bogle had the chance to have the final say when a third penalty of the game was given in added time but he missed the target and Town were forced to settle for just one point.
The new manager made two changes to the Grimsby side that narrowly lost to Bolton Wanderers last week, with the XI having a more familiar look than the one which started the midweek Checkatrade Trophy defeat by Sheffield United.
Ashley Chambers and Kayden Jackson were the two alterations from the Bolton game after both started against the Blades, with Craig Disley and Scott Vernon the ones to drop out of the team.
James McKeown started in goal, with Zak Mills, Danny Collins, Josh Gowling and Danny Andrew forming the defence.
James Berrett, Brandon Comley, Luke Summerfield and Chambers were the midfielders, while Jackson started alongside Bogle in attack.
Disley and Vernon were both named on the bench, where they were joined by Shaun Pearson, Tom Bolarinwa, Andrew Boyce, Dan Jones and Andy Warrington.
Barnet included leading scorer Akinde in their team, while former Mariners striker Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro was among their substitutes.
A Barnet free kick from halfway in the opening minute was comfortably dealt with, before an early stoppage came when Berrett came off worst in an aerial challenge with midfielder Tom Champion.
Town’s first attack of note came on seven minutes and saw Jackson send a low cross over from the right, although visiting keeper Jamie Stephens got to it first.
Akinde’s power saw him beat Andrew on the Barnet right two minutes later but the striker failed to pick out a team-mate with his cross.
A foul on Bogle gave the Mariners a free kick in a promising position on the quarter-hour and from it, the striker forced Stephens into a good save, with the keeper tipping the ball over his bar for a corner. Summerfield’s delivery was headed away by defender Bira Dembele, who was fouled.
Mauro Vilhete won a corner for the visitors when his right-wing cross was blocked but McKeown’s goal was not threatened from the flag-kick, as pressure from Gowling meant the header went over the bar.
And the Mariners went straight down the other end and opened the scoring with 21 minutes on the clock. BOGLE picked the ball up and used his pace to beat two defenders and force his way into the penalty area. From there, he aimed a shot towards the far post which deflected off defender Johnson and went past Stephens into the net.
A low cross by Mills was cut out for a corner by Johnson as Town went in search of a second goal but Akinde was first to the ball from the flag to clear the danger.
After Barnet had made a promising start, the Mariners had taken the initiative and were now the side on top, with Berrett the next to try his luck with a shot from 25 yards that was deflected over the bar for a goal kick.
The visitors won a corner on the half-hour but were unable to make it count, before good play by Harry Taylor on the right earned them another corner two minutes later. This time, Collins headed the ball clear.
And soon afterwards, it was 2-0 to the Mariners, as a mistake in defence by Taylor gave BOGLE a free run at goal through the middle. The striker pounced on the opportunity and took the ball forward before rifling it past Stephens and into the net.
Town now looked full of confidence and Stephens had to come off his line to stop a Berrett cross from reaching Jackson at the far post.
But at the other end, McKeown had to make a good save from a swerving shot by Mauro Vilhete. The keeper got the ball away for a corner, which led to Dembele glancing a header wide.
Mills then did well to clear for a throw-in at the far post after a cross from the Barnet right, with the visitors looking for a way back into the game.
Stephens raced off his line to beat Jackson to a through-ball three minutes before the break, before Chambers was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon for a foul midway inside his own half. Midfielder Ryan Watson’s shot from the resulting free kick was pushed away for a throw-in by McKeown.
Two added minutes were signalled by the fourth official as another ambitious effort from a long-range Barnet free kick cleared McKeown’s bar.
Dembele was booked for bringing Bogle down near the right corner of the Barnet penalty area but Bogle’s shot from the resulting free kick hit the visitors’ wall.
That proved to be the last action of a half which the Mariners had grown into and gone on to establish a commanding lead at the interval.
Akpa Akpro replaced Taylor for the away side before the restart and Town could have added to their score within 20 seconds of play resuming. The ball bounced nicely for Comley on the edge of the box but he dragged his low effort just wide of the target.
Another change was made by Barnet boss Martin Allen just three minutes in, with Sam Muggleton coming on for Johnson.
And the visitors had a golden chance to halve their deficit just a minute later, when Akinde burst into the box and was brought down by Gowling. Referee Seb Stockbridge had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and AKINDE took the chance, calmly slotting the ball into McKeown’s bottom-right corner.
Town boss Bignot responded by sending Bolarinwa on for Chambers two minutes later but they were pegged back again soon afterwards when the referee gave another penalty to the away side. Collins was adjudged to have fouled Curtis Weston and AKINDE stepped up to repeat the trick, rolling the ball into the same corner for 2-2.
From being in control of the game at the break, the Mariners now had it all to do again, with Barnet pressing forward looking to complete an unlikely turnaround.
Disley was sent on in place of Berrett on 57 minutes and his first action was to head a free kick from Watson clear at the edge of the box.
A chance came for Town when a long throw eventually dropped for Disley but the midfielder’s low shot from 20 yards was placed just wide of the far post.
Barnet had two chances to take the lead in quick succession on 65 minutes, with McKeown pushing a shot by Weston away from goal before the visitors worked the ball back for Watson to fire over the bar.
A Muggleton long throw led to Watson smashing a shot high over the bar, then another long throw from the same man on the opposite flank led to a Town free kick for a foul on Comley.
Town went close to reclaiming their lead with 16 minutes to go when a cross-field ball from Comley found Bolarinwa. He then passed to Mills but the right-back’s effort swung just wide of the far post.
At the other end, Akpa Akpro controlled a long ball with his chest before turning and shooting wide.
Bogle had a chance to complete his hat-trick and give the Mariners the lead back when he intercepted the ball ahead of Stephens but with the goal unguarded, the striker could only find the side-netting from a narrow angle.
Vernon replaced Jackson with 11 minutes left and Bolarinwa became the latest to be shown a yellow card after arguing when a free kick was given against him.
The away side went close to a third goal on 82 minutes when Akinde met a long throw from Muggleton but his header went straight at McKeown.
At the other end, a Collins header from a long throw was blocked, as both sides continued to push for a winner.
Comley cleared the bar with a shot from 25 yards after a good pass from Mills had found the midfielder on the left.
Defender Ali Sesay replaced Weston for Barnet soon afterwards as the North London side showed the first signs of looking to secure a point.
Bogle was penalised for a foul on Sesay midway inside the Grimsby half with three minutes to go but the Mariners were able to bring the ball clear after the free kick.
At the other end, Vernon was blocked unfairly by Dembele but Bogle could not capitalise from the free kick as he sent the ball high over the bar.
Barnet were then reduced to 10 men when Sesay was shown a straight red card for a bad challenge on Vernon, as the game moved into five minutes of added time.
And there was time for late drama when a third penalty of the game was given, this time in favour of the Mariners. Bogle had the chance to win the game, complete his hat-trick and write all the headlines but he missed the opportunity, lifting the ball over the bar.
That meant an entertaining game ended level and the Mariners will now focus on next Saturday’s long trip to face league-leaders Plymouth Argyle.