Notts County 2-2 Grimsby Town
GRIMSBY Town let a two-goal lead slip as Notts County fought back to claim a share of the spoils at Meadow Lane.
The Mariners, roared on by an incredible travelling support numbering 2,376, took the lead through Shaun Pearson just after the half-hour and added to it when Omar Bogle made it 2-0 after the break.
The hosts hit back through Jonathan Forte and could have equalised soon afterwards but for Michael O’Connor’s miss from a penalty.
But as Town sat deeper in defence, Notts got their equaliser when substitute Aaron Collins scored from the edge of the box with three minutes left to play.
Deadline day signings Brandon Comley and Shaun Tuton both came into the starting XI as Town boss Paul Hurst made two changes to the team that began the 5-2 victory over Stevenage last week.
That meant Craig Disley dropped to the bench, while Kayden Jackson missed out due to injury.
James McKeown started in goal, with Ben Davies, Pearson, Josh Gowling and Danny Andrew forming a back four which was unchanged from the previous league outing.
Dominic Vose, Comley, Luke Summerfield and Ashley Chambers were the midfielders, with Tuton partnering Bogle in attack.
Disley was joined among the substitutes by Zak Mills, James Berrett, Tom Bolarinwa, Andrew Boyce, Scott Vernon and Andy Warrington.
Town were looking for a first success on the road of the campaign after defeat in the Checkatrade Trophy at Walsall in midweek added to losses at Wycombe and Colchester in the league and Derby in the EFL Cup.
In their way was a Notts side including former Mariner Alex Rodman, as well as ex-Premier League striker Jon Stead, while Alan Smith, once of Manchester United and Leeds United, had to settle for a place on the bench.
An early free kick for a foul by Comley just inside the Town half was dealt with, before McKeown became the first of the keepers to be called into action when he got down to stop a weak shot from Stead on the turn.
At the other end, a shot from Chambers on the edge of the box was deflected over the bar for a corner and from the flag, the ball eventually came back to the winger, who this time curled an effort at home keeper Adam Collin.
A foul on Bogle gave Town a free kick in a dangerous position level with the right side of the penalty area on eight minutes but Andrew could only hit the defensive wall with his shot from 25 yards.
Davies conceded a free kick at the other end five minutes later but he was in the right place to head the ball clear after it had been sent into the box from the home left.
Bogle and Summerfield worked an opening on the edge of the County penalty area soon afterwards but the midfielder was unable to capitalise, shooting just wide.
And another half-chance came when Bogle headed the ball down for Tuton but the Barnsley loanee dragged his first-time shot wide.
And Tuton was involved again on 17 minutes for what was Grimsby’s best chance so far. The striker headed the ball on and beat his man to create a one-on-one with Collin but could only shoot wide as the keeper narrowed the angle.
Instead, it was almost 1-0 to the hosts when a corner was half-cleared and the ball eventually came to defender Richard Duffy, whose far-post volley was brilliantly blocked by McKeown before a follow-up effort was hit over the bar.
Another Notts free kick, this time from Carl Dickinson on the right, was well defended by the Mariners, before Stanley Aborah cut in from the right to fire a shot that was beaten away by McKeown.
Davies was fouled by former Scunthorpe United attacker Forte to bring about another free kick on the Town right but Bogle was beaten to the ball from it and the danger was cleared.
The Mariners opened the scoring on 33 minutes, after Bogle found his way into the box on and saw a shot blocked for a corner. When the ball from the flag came across, PEARSON was there to head it into the net to spark celebrations among the huge travelling support.
Things could have got even better for the away side just two minutes later when they had an opportunity to double their advantage. Vose took the ball through the middle before playing it to the right for Chambers, who crashed a first-time shot wide of the near post.
Town were now dominant and they had another chance with a free kick on the edge of the box after a foul on Tuton. Bogle’s low shot took a deflection off the Notts wall and went out for a corner, which led to Andrew flicking a volley wide of the near post.
The hosts were not seeing much of the ball in attacking areas, with Adam Campbell shooting well over the bar from 18 yards in what was a rare half-chance six minutes before the break.
Forte was caught offside to bring another home attack to an end three minutes later, although McKeown had been equal to his shot in any case.
A foul on Tuton on halfway came as the game moved into two minutes of added time, although McKeown’s ball into the box did not find a team-mate and went away for a goal kick.
The home side then ahead a free kick of their own for a foul by Summerfield but Pearson twice headed clear after Aborah’s delivery to ensure Town retained their one-goal advantage at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and Gowling had to make a good block in the opening minute of the second half, before Andrew sliced the ball away for a corner after a cross from the right. Pearson headed clear from the flag-kick.
A mistake by Andrew four minutes in gave possession to Rodman on the Notts right and he made his way into the box but hit a low effort wide of the far post.
Another home corner came when a shot from Campbell on the edge of the penalty area was deflected away for a corner, then from the flag, Stead flicked the ball on but Campbell could only prod it wide from close range.
At the other end, a shot by Vose from 20 yards was blocked by Louis Laing and a stoppage then came when the defender needed treatment.
Town doubled their advantage on 56 minutes as they were gifted a second goal. A short back-pass was pounced on by BOGLE, who took it on before prodding the ball past Collin and into the far corner of the net.
Notts manager John Sheridan’s response was to make a triple substitution, sending on Collins for Campbell, Vadaine Oliver for Stead and Thierry Audel for Aborah.
McKeown did well to make two crucial challenges after racing out of his box to get to a loose ball, before Vose was fouled as he looked to make progress down the right but the resulting free kick was caught by Collin.
The hosts had a good chance to pull a goal back when Forte did well to get to the byline and work an opening for a cross on the left but his ball was headed over the bar by Oliver from six yards.
Vose won a corner on the Town left on 69 minutes but his ball from the flag was headed away as far as Chambers. He then passed to Summerfield but the midfielder’s ball into the box proved too far ahead of Gowling.
Grimsby’s first substitution saw Berrett come on in place of Chambers before Tuton was forced off after going down injured, with Vernon replacing him.
The hosts then got themselves back into the contest as they halved the deficit with 13 minutes to go. A cross came in from the right and McKeown made a superb block to keep out an initial effort but FORTE was in the right place to convert the rebound and make it 2-1.
And within two minutes, it looked like Notts were going to complete the turnaround as the referee spotted a shirt-pull when the ball was played into the box and pointed to the penalty spot. Captain O’Connor stepped up to take the penalty but crashed it against the post and out for a goal kick as Grimsby’s lead survived.
Nevertheless, it was looking like being a long last 10 minutes for the Mariners and their fans as the hosts attacked in search of an equaliser.
A long-range shot was deflected away for a Notts corner but after Disley replaced Vose, the ball from the flag cleared everybody and went out for a goal kick.
Town were not to survive for the remainder of the game though, as the hosts grabbed their leveller with three minutes to go. The ball was headed down on the edge of the box and substitute COLLINS drilled a low shot past McKeown to make it 2-2.
And as the Mariners sat deeper and deeper, the home side almost had a winner when the ball was played for Oliver in the box. He looked to loop a header over McKeown but the keeper got a hand to it to ensure a corner was the only damage.
Seven minutes of added time was signalled by the fourth official, prompting more nerves among the away supporters as the hosts continued to push for a winner.
A cross-shot from Bogle was deflected onto the bar and out for a corner and it eventually led to another one on the opposite side after a shot from Gowling was blocked. This time, Pearson met Summerfield’s delivery but could not direct it towards goal.
That proved to be Grimsby’s last chance to snatch their lead back, meaning it was mainly frustration for the away supporters as they left to begin their journey home as their first away point of the season had instead looked for so long to be a likely three points.