Mariners held by Tranmere at Prenton Park

Grimsby Town came from behind to lead but were ultimately forced to settle for a draw with Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.

Keiron Morris opened the scoring for the hosts on 16 minutes but the Mariners went in ahead at the break after goals from Danny Rose and substitute Rekeil Pyke turned the scoreline around.

Town had opportunities to add to their advantage in the second half and a Pyke header was brilliantly saved by keeper Luke McGee in the best of their chances.

But despite dominating for much of the contest, they were made to pay for not putting the result beyond doubt with a third goal, as Connor Jennings’ powerful header earned Tranmere a point.

Donovan Wilson made his first competitive start for Grimsby after coming off the bench to score in both of the previous two games.  His inclusion was one of two changes to the starting line-up following the midweek victory over Barrow, with Harry Clifton the other one to come into the team as Otis Khan and Gavan Holohan missed out.

Jake Eastwood started in goal, with Toby Mullarkey, Harvey Rodgers, Luke Waterfall and Michee Efete forming an unchanged back four.  Clifton, Kamil Conteh, Jamie Andrews and Abo Eisa were the midfielders, as Rose partnered Wilson in attack.

Khan and Holohan were both named among the substitutes, along with Harvey Cartwright, Pyke, Arthur Gnahoua, Alex Hunt and Niall Maher.

Tranmere were looking to build on Tuesday’s victory over Bradford City as they aimed to move clear of the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone with another win.

Manager Nigel Adkins’ starting XI included former Mariners loanees Jennings and Kristian Dennis, while ex-Town youngster Joe Starbuck was on the Rovers bench.

Eastwood managed to prevent a deflected Josh Hawkes cross from going out for a corner as the home side attacked in the early stages.

Instead, the first corner was won by Wilson on the Town right but Rodgers could only head it over the bar from a narrow angle at the far post.

Jennings looked for Harvey Saunders with a defence-splitting diagonal pass on seven minutes, although Eastwood came off his line and got to the ball first.

Efete did well to get to a cross ahead of Saunders and head clear for a throw-in, then Andrews tried his luck with a strike from distance but a brave block by Jennings took it away for a corner.

A Town penalty claim was waved away after Wilson went down inside the box on 12 minutes, then Wilson was involved in a collision with McGee, who raced out of his area to win the ball ahead of the striker.

The deadlock was broken four minutes later and it was the hosts who took the lead.  Saunders played the ball through the middle for MORRIS, who controlled it on his chest and went on to slot past Eastwood from close range.

A cross from Lee O’Connor on the Tranmere right was comfortably caught by the Grimsby keeper, then Clifton flashed the ball across goal at the other end but it dropped away from the target.

Wilson won a corner on the left as the visitors aimed to respond go falling behind but after Andrews’ ball was met by Waterfall, the home defence managed to clear their lines.

Clifton then took advantage of a loose ball to drive forward from midfield, although a good block by Josef Yarney stopped his shot.

Soon afterwards, the Mariners were back on level terms with their first real chance of the game.  Eisa found Wilson on the edge of the box and when the ball came off defender Tom Davies and broke for ROSE at the far post, he clipped a great finish past McGee, back across goal and into the net from a very tight angle.

Wilson went down with an injury soon after the goal and was unable to continue, so Town were forced into the game’s first substitution as Pyke took his place on 29 minutes.

Saunders fired wide from 18 yards, then a weak effort by Regan Hendry went through to Eastwood and with the home side’s next opening, Hawkes failed to pick out a team-mate after cutting inside from the left.

Town created a chance two minutes before the break when Clifton crossed for Eisa from the right but the winger was unable to convert it.

Seconds later though, the turnaround was complete as the Mariners took the lead.  The ball came in from the right again as Mullarkey crossed and it came off Rose into the path of PYKE, who swung his left boot and sent an instinctive finish past McGee.

The fourth official signalled for a minimum of seven added minutes and a Tranmere corner caused no problems as the referee gave a Town free kick for a foul.

The rest of the additional time passed without incident, so the Mariners retained their advantage at the interval.




No changes were made before the restart and Pyke was shown the first yellow card of the game three minutes in for a late challenge on Connor Wood.

An Eisa cross from the left went out for a goal kick after Conteh had made space to start the attack from midfield, then a cross from Hawkes at the other end also went out of play.

The Mariners went close to a third goal on 55 minutes after Conteh started another attack by finding Clifton on the right.  He stood a cross up to the far post but Pyke’s powerful downward header was brilliantly kept out by McGee.

Seconds later, the away side were almost punished for failing to take their chance as a cross from the home left was met by Dennis, although he could only send a free header wide.

The game was moving from end to end as the hour mark approached and a low cross from Eisa was cleared, before the winger was brought down in a dangerous position on the left by Morris, who was booked.   Eisa’s shot from the resulting free kick flew over the bar into the Town fans.

The fourth goal of the afternoon arrived on 61 minutes and it was a Tranmere equaliser.  Wood crossed from the left and the ball was met by JENNINGS, whose powerful header from 10 yards gave Eastwood no chance.

The hosts now had the momentum and after a cross-field run from Hawkes led to a cross from the right, a ball from Morris on the left caused problems inside the Town box until play was stopped for offside.

Khan and Holohan replaced Rose and Conteh for Town with 20 minutes to go, with Rob Apter, and Charlie Jolley coming on for Morris and Saunders in the white of Tranmere at the same time.

An Andrews free kick from the left beat everybody and rolled out for a home throw-in, before a Holohan cross from deep was headed away.

An Eisa strike from the left was then touched wide for a corner by McGee after Pyke showed good strength to hold the ball up and find Clifton, as Town aimed to reclaim the lead.

Khan sent a cross over from the left which was headed out for a throw-in, before Clifton was unable to capitalise on an opening inside the penalty area.

After a spell of Tranmere pressure around the time of their second goal, the Mariners looked to be back on top as the 80-minute mark loomed.

A stoppage came for Yarney to receive treatment after another tussle which this time, saw him get the better of Pyke.

Gnahoua replaced Eisa just before the game moved into five added minutes and Town almost had an opportunity to win the game when Clifton sent a low, first-time cross towards Pyke at the far post, only for Tom Davies to get to the ball first with a vital interception to take it away for a corner.

The flag-kick looked to have caused problems as Tranmere struggled to get the ball clear but it was eventually scrambled away and with that went Town’s chances of claiming all three points.

Instead, the afternoon ended with honours even and the Mariners were left with one point for their efforts.

Town are next in action on Tuesday, when they play their final EFL Trophy group match against Bradford City at Blundell Park.



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