Artell’s Mariners Earn Point in Buckinghamshire

Grimsby Town started the David Artell era with a point from a draw with Milton Keynes Dons at Stadium MK.

The Mariners produced an excellent performance in their first game under the new head coach and deservedly led at half-time after Rekeil Pyke opened the scoring.

But despite dominating for long periods and going close to a second goal when Arthur Gnahoua hit the post, the visitors were pegged back six minutes after the hour as Jack Payne swept in a low cross to make it 1-1.

Both sides created good opportunities to win the match but neither was able to find the net for a second time, meaning Town’s wait for a first away win of the season goes on.

Artell’s first team selection showed four changes from the XI that began the home draw with Sutton United on Saturday, as Harvey Rodgers, Harry Clifton, Otis Khan and Danny Rose replaced Luke Waterfall, Gavan Holohan, Jamie Andrews and Donovan Wilson.

Goalkeeper Harvey Cartwright lined up behind a defence of Toby Mullarkey, Rodgers, Niall Maher and Anthony Glennon, with Clifton and Kamil Conteh behind Pyke, Gnahoua and Khan in midfield as Rose led the attack.

Waterfall and Wilson were both named on the bench, where they were joined by Jake Eastwood, Kieran Green, Abo Eisa, Callum Ainley and Alex Hunt.

The Mariners were looking to extend their unbeaten sequence to six games and the Dons also came into the contest in good form, with the Buckinghamshire side having won three of their previous four fixtures under new manager Mike Williamson.

Max Dean would hope to add to his five goals so far this season, while Mo Eisa – brother of Town’s Abo – was among the home substitutes.

The hosts won the game’s first corner on three minutes but the delivery from the flag was confidently claimed by Cartwright. He immediately launched a counter-attack which saw Khan win a corner at the other end but Glennon’s ball was cleared.

Neither keeper had been called into action as the 10-minute mark passed, although a shot from Mullarkey was blocked after a run by Clifton down the left.

A low cross from Mullarkey was deflected behind for a corner as Town’s positive start continued and Glennon’s delivery was flicked away for another one by Jordan Williams. This time, Gnahoua lifted a shot over the bar following a well-worked short corner routine.

A flowing move led to another corner after Khan had linked up with Gnahoua, although the away side were not able to capitalise from the flag-kick.

The Mariners did not have to wait much longer to get their reward for dominating the opening 20 minutes, though. Rose beat the offside trap to run onto a through-ball from Pyke, before pulling it back for PYKE to finish well from 12 yards and open the scoring.

More good football from the visitors brought yet another corner when Khan was just beaten to the ball inside the box, although the delivery from the right was headed at Dons keeper Craig MacGillivray by Maher.

The Dons were yet to make an impression in front of goal as the half-hour loomed, with Conteh and Clifton picking up the loose balls in midfield and helping to limit their hosts to very little possession inside the Town half.

The home side’s first opening saw Cameron Norman fire just wide of the target with a low effort from 20 yards, then a stoppage allowed Artell to gather his team and pass on further instructions after a very encouraging opening half-hour.

Glennon and Pyke were both passed fit to continue after going down injured and after play resumed, a foul by Maher on Dean gave the Dons a free kick in a central position, 25 yards out. Hunt replaced Glennon in the evening’s first substitution after the left-back went down again, then Payne’s shot hit Rose in the Town wall when the free kick was eventually taken.

The hosts had come into the game more since the goal and the momentum appeared to be shifting towards them, although a great run by Clifton on 37 minutes took him into the penalty area, where his cross-shot from a narrow angle was stopped by MacGillivray.

Rose did well to win a challenge with Warren O’Hora and go through on goal but excellent covering just as he was about to shoot meant the home side got the ball away into the side-netting for a corner.

Cartwright comfortably claimed a cross from the right as the game moved into a minimum of seven minutes of first-half stoppage time, then a strike by Hunt was pushed away from danger by MacGillivray as Town aimed to double their advantage before the break.

Hunt produced another good save from the keeper with a low effort from distance, before a block by Maher took the sting out of a shot from Alex Gilbey and the ball went safely through to Cartwright.

Williams was shown the first yellow card of the night for bringing Gnahoua down as he aimed to break over the halfway line and soon afterwards, Pyke won a corner on the right. Gnahoua played it short for Hunt but his cross was cleared.

That proved to be the last action of a superb first half for the Mariners, who deservedly led at the interval.


No further changes were made before the restart and Clifton called MacGillivray into action within seconds as he forced the keeper to dive and stop a low shot.

A spell of Dons possession ended without a chance being created as Maher stepped in to make an interception, then Daniel Harvie fired wide from 25 yards after Conteh had done well to win a challenge inside his own penalty area seconds earlier.

Town were forced into making a second change when Pyke went down on 53 minutes, with Eisa sent on in his place.

The substitute’s first involvement saw him drive a low cross into the box from the left which was put behind for a corner. Hunt’s flag-kick was headed clear.

Gnahoua headed a Khan cross over the bar, then Dean side-footed wide at the other end after a slick attacking move by the home side.

Jonathan Leko replaced Conor Grant for the Dons just after the hour and soon afterwards, Mullarkey did well to win a corner on the Town right. Gnahoua sent it towards the far post but his delivery was headed away.

The Mariners were inches away from making it 2-0 on 63 minutes when Hunt made progress towards the edge of the box before passing to Gnahoua, whose low shot beat the keeper but hit the far post and bounced away from Eisa.

Conteh was booked after he was adjudged to have kicked the ball away following the award of a free kick, then a corner from the home right looked to have been dealt with as Hunt headed clear. The Dons retained possession though and a low cross from Dean was swept into the net by PAYNE for the equaliser.

Wilson replaced Khan and Ainley came on for Gnahoua as Town boss Artell made a double-substitution after the goal.

A Clifton cross was caught by MacGillivray after great play by Mullarkey, before Joe Tomlinson showed good skill to beat Clifton but his cross was turned behind for a goal kick.

Ellis Harrison replaced Dean and Mo Eisa came on for Dean Lewington in a double-substitution for the hosts with 19 minutes remaining.

A low pull-back from Mullarkey was stopped by MacGillivray, then Cartwright was called into action to make an excellent save from Leko’s low shot.

A foul by Clifton gave Payne an opportunity to swing a free kick into the box from the right and it led to a corner but the ball from the flag was cleared by Wilson.

Town’s Eisa had a chance to put his side back into the lead soon afterwards when a shot from Wilson deflected into his path but after controlling the ball, his volley was well-blocked by MacGillivray.

Rodgers slid in to make an excellent block from Payne on 81 minutes, then a long-range drive from Norman whistled just over the bar as the hosts continued to threaten.

Both sides were creating opportunities in what was an open game, with less than 10 minutes now remaining for somebody to find a winning goal.

Ainley was booked for a late challenge on Harvie, then the former Crewe midfielder hit the side-netting from a narrow angle after keeping the ball in when Rose was blocked.

The yellow card was shown to Wilson for a foul, before another flowing move by the Mariners saw Wilson find Ainley inside the box, although he fired off-target under pressure.

The fourth official signalled for at least five minutes of added time to be played and another chance came when a cross from the left fell for Mullarkey, only for Leko to recover and block the right-back’s shot.

The hosts had a final opportunity to snatch all three points in the closing seconds when the ball fell for Eisa inside the box but he could only side-foot wide under pressure from Rodgers.

That meant one of Town’s best performances of the season so far was at least rewarded with a point and their focus will now turn to Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup second round tie at Oxford United.



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