An excellent defensive effort earned Grimsby Town a point from a goalless draw with Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium
After three straight defeats, the Mariners produced a gritty display to ensure their losing run came to an end.
James McKeown saved a first-half penalty from Sam Smith to keep the scores level and after that, clear-cut chances were few and far between but Town were solid at the back and deserved to take something from the game.
Three changes were made to the Grimsby side after the home defeat by Leyton Orient on Saturday, with Mattie Pollock, Elliott Whitehouse and Matt Green all coming in.
There was also a change in formation as goalkeeper McKeown was protected by a three-man central defence of Ludvig Ohman, Pollock and Luke Waterfall, with Luke Hendrie and Liam Gibson operating as wing-backs.
Whitehouse, Jake Hessenthaler and Elliott Hewitt were the midfielders, with Green alongside James Hanson in attack.
The substitutes were Sam Russell, Harry Davis, Jordan Cook, Ahkeem Rose, Charles Vernam, Harry Cardwell and Moses Ogbu.
Cambridge came into the game fresh from a big win against Exeter City on Saturday which took them into League Two’s top 10 and were looking to follow that up with another good result.
The hosts dominated possession in the early stages, although Town showed promising signs on five minutes when a ball from Hendrie ino the corner found Green. His cross was intercepted before it could reach Hanson though.
Hanson couldn’t get enough power on his header after meeting a crross from the left on 21 minutes and the ball was chested back to home keeper Dimitar Mitov as Green looked to get onto the rebound.
At the other end, McKeown did well to hold a 20-yard drive from Reggie Lambe as he was called into serious action for the first time a minute later.
The Mariners won a corner on the left soon afterwards and Hessenthaler’s delivery was met by Ohman but his looping header was caught by Mitov and Whitehouse was then booked for a foul on the keeper as he looked to launch an attack.
Jack Roles had a shooting chance from just outside the box on 29 minutes but again, McKeown was equal to it as he got down to make the stop.
A Town penalty appeal was turned down after Green went down under a challenge from Mitov, before the hosts went close to breaking the deadlock when Marc Richards hit the bar with a curling shot after Pollock had given possession away.
Whitehouse won a corner after the ball looked to have broken to him off defender Paul Lewis but Hanson could only head wide at the far post from the flag-kick.
A cross by Harrison Dunk on the Cambridge left was headed clear by Gibson as the hosts attacked again.
They were given a golden opportunity to take the lead on 36 minutes when Gibson brought Lewis down inside the box and the referee immeditely pointed to the penalty spot. It was not taken though as Smith saw his kick saved by McKeown and then put the rebound over the bar.
A good cross from Gibson on 44 minutes found Hanson but the striker’s header was comfortably caught by Mitov.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and after Luke Hannant fired over the bar from the edge of the box, the game remained goalless at the break.
No changes were made before the restart and Town began brightly, with Green seeing a shot blocked from 12 yards before Hanson fired over the bar.
A foul on Whitehouse gave the Mariners a free kick inside the Cambridge half on 52 minutes but they were unable to make it count.
A good flick-on from Hanson near the halfway line looked to have sent Green through but the ball was put out for a throw-in, which then turned into a corner but again, it did not lead to a goalscoring chance.
McKeown made a good save from Dunk after the winger had cut inside from the right, before a cross from Lambe was headed clear by Pollock and Smith volleyed wide.
A chance came at the other end when a long throw by Hewitt was worked back to him and the midfielder’s cross was met by Ohman but his header went through to Mitov in the Cambridge goal.
Harvey Knibbs replaced Roles for the home side on 67 minutes and a quick counter-attack through Hannant led to a corner, which didn’t cause any significant problems.
Rose replaced Green in the Grimsby attack on 72 minutes, before an opportunity for Cambridge came when Hannant cut inside and fired a low shot which was stopped by McKeown.
Smith was replaced by Andrew Dallas and soon afterwards, Waterfall had to head the ball over his own bar for a corner after a dangerous cross. The ball from the flag was headed clear by Pollock.
A stoppage came for Hanson to receive treatment after picking up an injury but he was passed fit to continue.
Rose then created a chance for himself after winning the ball in midfield but after racing into the box, Mitov came out to narrow the angle and make a block.
At the other end, Cambridge won a corner on 89 minutes but it was headed clear by Hanson.
Five added minutes were played at the end of the game and a foul by Hendrie on Dunk gave the hosts a free kick on the left edge of the penalty area. Hannant’s delivery was punched clear by McKeown.
The home side kept pushing for a winner and after a corner was dealt with, there was more defending to do but Town did it well, ensuring they kept a clean sheet and got the reward of a point.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when Cheltenham Town are the visitors to Blundell Park.
Cambridge Utd: Mitov, Taft (C), Ward, Knoyle, Hannant, Dunk, Lewis, Roles, Lambe, Smith, Richards.
Subs: Burton, Darling, Davies, John, Worman, Dallas, Knibbs.
Town: McKeown (C), Hendrie, Gibson, Pollock, Öhman, Waterfall, Hewitt, Hessenthaler, Whitehouse, Hanson, Green.
Subs: Russell, Davis, Cook, Cardwell, Ogbu, Rose, Vernam.
Attendance: 4,898 (369)
Referee: Robert Jones
Possession: Cambridge Utd 72% – 28% Town
Corners: Cambridge Utd 7 – 3 Town
Next Up: Cheltenham Town (H)