Grimsby Town started their EFL Trophy Northern Group H campaign with a penalty shootout victory over Harrogate Town after a 2-2 draw at Blundell Park.
A very young Mariners side produced a superb performance against their more experienced opponents and Montel Gibson’s penalty put the hosts in front nine minutes before the break.
It was a night to remember for 15-year-old Louis Boyd as he came off the bench to become Town’s youngest-ever first team player before also becoming the club’s youngest goalscorer as he made it 2-0.
But the visitors struck back through Brendon Kiernan after Warren Burnell’s 81st minute penalty came back off the post, before Kevin Lokko levelled the scores when his close-range effort after a scramble was adjudged to have crossed the line.
Grimsby substitute Evan Khouri was sent off as the visitors pushed for a winner but it was not to come and although both teams took at least a point from the draw, the rules of the competition mean a penalty shootout was required.
And it was the Mariners who took an extra point after scoring all five of their spot-kicks as Lloyd Kerry hit the post with Harrogate’s fifth.
Terry Taylor came straight into the Town starting XI after becoming the latest of Ian Holloway’s summer signings when his loan move from Wolves was confirmed.
He was one of four new signings in what was a largely youthful line-up, with Luke Spokes, Owura Edwards and Gibson also included.
Sam Russell began in goal, with Elliott Hewitt, Ludvig Ohman, Duncan Idehen, Joey Hope, Harry Clifton and Joe Starbuck making up the team.
The Grimsby substitutes were James McKeown, Khouri, Luis Adlard, Ben Grist, Boyd, Harvey Tomlinson and Ira Jackson.
Harrogate, playing in their first EFL Trophy match since winning promotion from the National League, came into the game following a penalty shootout success against Tranmere in the Carabao Cup on Saturday.
They named a strong line-up which included former Blackburn, Sunderland and Sheffield United striker Jon Stead, while Jack Muldoon would also be looking to cause problems for the home defence.
An early Harrogate free kick was cleared after it was played into the box by Tom Walker, before Russell was called into action for the first time to tip a header from Kiernan over the bar for a corner on five minutes.
Idehen showed good pace to get back and challenge Kiernan as he ran through the middle for the away side.
Harrogate had started the stronger of the two teams but the Mariners were looking dangerous in attack at times, using the pace and skill of Edwards to create openings.
Edwards saw a shot blocked, before Hope’s rebound was pushed away by visiting keeper Joe Cracknell on 26 minutes.
Soon afterwards, another chance came when Clifton’s cross from the left was met by Gibson at the far post but his header went over the bar.
Hope was involved again on the half-hour as he made progress inside the Harrogate half before playing a cross-field ball for Starbuck, whose low cross was turned behind for a corner.
A late challenge on Clifton brought a free kick near the halfway line but this time, Town were unable to turn it into a chance in front of goal.
Soon afterwards, Gibson looked up and let fly with a powerful shot from 35 yards which Cracknell had to push over his bar for a corner.
From the flag, Spokes’ smart low ball for Edwards led to him turning inside the box and being pulled down. The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot and GIBSON stepped up to give the Mariners the lead.
Walker hit a low effort from the edge of the box which Russell got down to comfortably stop as Harrogate looked for a response.
Burrell headed at Russell after a cross from the right on 43 minutes, before a foul on Starbuck gave Town a free kick on the right as the game moved into two minutes of added time. Spokes’ ball into the box was cleared.
Stead pulled a low cross harmlessly across goal at the other end and that proved to be the last attack of note before the half-time whistle, with the Mariners taking a one-goal advantage into the interval.
No changes were made by either side before the restart and an early shot from Gibson went over the bar after Edwards’ pass found him on the right.
Muldoon fired wide at the other end and the away pressure continued as Kiernan also sent an effort wide of the far post.
A Spokes free kick for the Mariners led to another one as the referee spotted a handball when his shot hit the Harrogate wall. His second attempt from 10 yards further forward also hit the wall.
A shot by Burrell was deflected out for an away corner on 54 minutes and it led to another on the opposite flank, which eventually saw defender Will Smith head the ball through to Russell.
A great ball into the box by Clifton on 58 minutes found Edwards and he worked an opening for a shot but could only send the ball over the bar.
Both sides then made their first substitution, with Khouri replacing Spokes in the Grimsby midfield as Aaron Martin came on in place of Muldoon for Harrogate.
A foul by Ohman gave the visitors a free kick in a dangerous position on the hour but the defender made up for his error as he headed Walker’s delivery clear.
Edwards was fouled to give Town a free kick at the other end but Gibson’s shot fom 25 yards was pushed away by keeper Cracknell before being cleared.
Mark Beck replaced Stead in the Harrogate attack, before Boyd became Grimsby’s youngest-ever first team player at 15 years and 324 days as he replaced Hope.
Ohman was booked after a foul but the resulting free kick was poor and after Town brought the ball clear, they went on to double their advantage. BOYD broke a second record as he became the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer, steering a great finish over Cracknell and into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box.
Jackson replaced Hewitt for Town and George Thomson came on for Walker in the blue of Harrogate as both teams made another change on 77 minutes.
Taylor was shown the yellow card for a foul on the away left and as Thomson sent the ball into the box, a handball by Ohman was spotted and the referee gave the second penalty of the game. Burrell’s spot-kick came back off the post but the rebound was tucked away by Kiernan to make it 2-1.
Ohman blocked a cross for a corner as the visitor looked for an equaliser and they had it when the flag-kick led to Russell appearing to have made a good save from a close-range effort by LOKKO during a scramble. The game continued but the assistant referee’s flag went up on the far side for a goal and it was given by the referee.
After looking to be out of the contest, the visitors were now aiming to win it and another corner led to Martin heading over the bar.
Town were reduced to 10 men when Khouri was shown the red card for a foul as the game moved into four minutes of added time.
The away side were still pushing for a winner and they won a corner as a penalty claim was dismissed by the referee. They were unable to make the most of the opportunity from the flag though.
That winner was not to come, however, and as both sides claimed at least one point, the game went to penalties to decide who would get an extra point.
Gibson and Thomson both scored, as did Taylor and Martin to make it 2-2 after two penalties each.
Edwards also found the net and Beck responded for 3-3, before Starbuck’s confident finish kept up the hosts’ 100 per cent record from the spot and Burrell did likewise for the visitors.
Jackson took Grimsby’s fifth penalty and scored but Lloyd Kerry’s effort hit the post, meaning the Mariners won the shootout 5-4 and took a deserved victory on the night.
Attention now turns to the start of the League Two campaign on Saturday, when Town travel to Walsall.
Town: Russell, Hewitt, Öhman, Idehen, Hope, Taylor, Clifton, Spokes, Starbuck, Edwards, Gibson.
Subs: McKeown, Khouri, Adlard, Grist, Boyd, Tomlinson, Jackson Jr.
Cracknell, Fallowfield, Burrell (C), Smith, Lokko , Kerry, Kiernan, Kirby, Walker, Stead, Muldoon.
Subs: Hall, Emmett, Falkingham, Thomson, Beck, Martin.