Match Report: Grimsby Town 0-0 Exeter City

Grimsby Town made it three games unbeaten as they earned a deserved draw with high-flying Exeter City at Blundell Park.

In an entertaining contest, the Mariners had the better of the first half and created several chances but were unable to make any of them count.

The visitors then created more after the break and had the opportunity to open the scoring with a penalty but Pierce Sweeney’s spot-kick was brilliantly saved by James McKeown.

Town boss Michael Jolley named the same XI that began the last league game against Port Vale, with goalkeeper McKeown behind a back four of Reece Hall-Johnson, Alex Whitmore, Danny Collins and Luke Henrie.

Harry Clifton, Mitch Rose and Elliot Embleton were the midfielders, with Charles Vernam, Wes Thomas and JJ Hooper in attack.

John Welsh and Jordan Cook made returns to the bench, where they were joined by Jake Hessenthaler, Akin Famewo, Ahkeem Rose, Ben Pringle and Sam Russell.

Exeter made the long journey north looking to continue their excellent form which had taken them to second place in the League Two table.

Matt Taylor’s side included the division’s top scorer Jayden Stockley, who would be out to add to his tally of nine goals so far this campaign.

The first Town attack of the game saw Embleton swing a cross over from the right but Hooper could only send the ball wide.

At the other end, Jonathan Forte crossed from the left but it ended with a similar result, as midfielder Hiram Boateng diverted the ball wide.

Another Forte cross led to Lee Holmes heaing wide at the far post, before defender Luke Croll beat Thomas to a ball from Hall-Johnson.

Thomas turned on the edge of the box on eight minutes and his shot was blocked for the game’s first corner, which led to Hendrie shooting over the bar from 25 yards after Embleton’s ball from the flag had been half-cleared.

Hendrie won another corner on 17 minutes but Embleton’s ball was punched by visiting keeper Christy Pym before the clearance was completed.

A corner on the opposite right flank came soon afterwards after a deep cross from Embleton had caused problems but this time, the Sunderland loanee’s low ball to the edge of the box was read by the away defence.

The home pressure continued when a chipped cross from Hooper to the far post was headed behind by Dean Moxey.  The ball from the flag was dealt with but Town kept possession and worked it back into the penalty area, where it was again cleared.

Town had made an encouraging start to the game and they attacked again on 21 minutes, although Embleton’s ball was just too high for Hooper to connect with inside the box.

Thomas did well to bring the ball down after it had been played forward on 24 minutes but he was unable to find the power or direction to trouble Pym from a narrow angle.

The Mariners were inches away from taking the lead soon afterwards when Vernam got on the end of a good through-ball from Rose and beat Pym from the edge of the box, only for the ball to hit the post and roll across the goal without crossing the line.  Vernam got to the rebound and the ball eventually came back to Clifton but his shot was caught by Pym.

Hooper shot wide from distance as the hosts continued to dominate, before Boateng was shown the first yellow card of the game for a late challenge on Clifton just before the half-hour.

A ball into the box from Vernam was headed out for a corner but Town were unable to create any danger from the flag.

Yet another corner came on the Grimsby right when Clifton’s cross was headed out by Moxey but Embleton’s delivery was headed clear.

Exeter had created little so far but they went close to taking the lead when a low ball from Nicky Law on the left was met by Forte but his shot went just past the far post.

At the other end, Embleton hit a low ball through the middle for Thomas to run onto but the striker could only shoot off-target under pressure.

One added minute was signalled to be played at the end of the half, with Exeter on the attack.  But they were unable to cause any significant problems and the score remained goalless at the interval.

No changes were made before the restart and there was almost a chance for the visitors straight away when Rose knocked the ball back towards McKeown from the centre spot.  The keeper slipped but recovered as Forte looked set to pounce.
A cross from Vernam was cleared for the first corner of the second half but Town were unable to turn it into a chance in front of goal.

At the other end, the visitors went close when a good move led to Moxey playing a low cross from the left for Forte but his flick came back off the bar to keep the scoresheet blank.

Embleton sent a cross towards the far post for Town but Hooper could not direct his header towards goal, before Boateng’s side-footed shot for Exeter was saved by McKeown as both sides continued to create chances.

The away side were gifted an opportunity to take the lead on 56 minutes when Forte got in behind Hall-Johnson and the defender brought him down inside the box.  The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot but Sweeney’s kick was well saved by McKeown, who dived to his left to turn the ball around the post.

The resulting corner brought another chance for Sweeney but this time, his header dropped just over the bar.

Law curled a shot wide of the far post on 59 minutes as Exeter continued to attack, before a good chance for the hosts was not taken as Thomas’ powerful shot from the edge of the box flew wide.

Cook replaced Vernam as Town made the first substitution of the game just after the hour mark.

A foul on Hall-Johnson then gave the Mariners a free kick in a dangerous position on the right but Embleton’s ball was cleared, as was Hendrie’s follow-up ball into the box.

Cook fired over the bar after a good build-up, before a shot from Holmes at the other end was deflected away for a corner after Boateng had beaten hall-Johnson down the left.  Law’s flag-kick was headed away, before a volley from Boateng was blocked.

Exeter were looking dangerous in attack and a superb build-up led to a chance but Forte’s back-heel from six yards was blocked.

Lee Martin replaced Forte for the visitors with 20 minutes to go, before Hessenthaler caame on for Embleton in the black and white of the Mariners.
Hooper shot over the bar after another good move by the hosts, who continued to impress while in possesson but were still yet to seriously test Pym in the Exeter goal.

Jake Taylor had a chance to win the game for the visitors when he was played in by Stockley but he could not find the finish, sending the ball over the bar after going through one-on-one with McKeown.

Substitute Martin had a shot blocked for a corner with three minutes left but Thomas was in the right place to head Law’s flag-kick clear.

Boateng was replaced by Tristan Abrahams for the closing stages of the game, with Ahkeem Rose coming on for Thomas at the same time.

An additional three minutes was signalled as both sides kept pressing for a winning goal.

A long throw from Rose was headed away as far as Hessenthaler, whose shot was blocked.  Another throw brought an aadditional opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone but this time, Hall-Johnson was off-target with what proved to be the last shot of the game.

That meant a good contest had ended with a point apiece and the Mariners are next in action on Tuesday, when Colchester United visit Blundell Park.


1 James McKeown
2 Reece Hall-Johnson
27 Luke Hendrie
25 Alex Whitmore
6 Danny Collins (C)
8 Mitch Rose
22 Elliot Embleton
15 Harry Clifton
39 Wes Thomas
18 Charles Vernam
9 JJ Hooper


23 Sam Russell
12 Akin Famewo
11 Jordan Cook
7 Jake Hessenthaler
30 Ben Pringle
4 John Welsh
21 Ahkeem Rose

Exeter City

1 Christy Pym
2 Pierce Sweeney
21 Dean Moxey
23 Luke Croll
5 Aaron Martin
25 Jake Taylor (C)
8 Nicky Law
44 Hiram Boateng
10 Lee Holmes
14 Jonathan Forte
11 Jayden Stockley


13 James Hamon
4 Dara O’Shea
3 Craig Woodman
7 Lee Martin
6 Jordan Tillson
19 Tristan Abrahams
17 Matt Jay

Attendance: 4,037 (130)

Referee: Matt Donohue

Next Up: Colchester United (H)


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