Grimsby Town finished 2020 by earning a point from a goalless draw with Oldham Athletic at Blundell Park.
In a game of few real chances, the Mariners battled well but were unable to force a breakthrough and it was a similar story at the other end as Sam Russell remained largely untroubled in the Town goal.
Four changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI after the defeat at Morecambe on Boxing Day, with Russell returning in place of James McKeown, who was self-isolating.
The other alterations saw Danny Rose, George Williams and Owura Edwards come into the team as Harry Clifton, Kyle Bennett and Ira Jackson Jr all dropped to the bench.
Russell was protected by a defence of Luke Hendrie, Mattie Pollock, Luke Waterfall and Danny Preston, while Filipe Morais and Elliott Hewitt started alongside Rose in midfield as Williams and Edwards lined up either side of Matt Green in attack.
Clifton, Bennett and Jackson were joined among the substitutes by Joe Starbuck, James Tilley, Montel Gibson and Ollie Battersby, who was recalled from his loan at Gateshead.
Oldham made five changes following their 2-1 home loss to Harrogate last time out, with 17-year-old striker Junior Luamba making his league debut.
The visitors had the first attack of note on three minutes when Dylan Bahamboula went on a run through the middle but after the ball was played out to Zachary Dearnley on the right, his low cross was stopped by Russell.
The Town keeper had to tip a dangerous-looking cross by Dylan Fage away from goal, before Edwards was unable to control the ball at the other end after Green had flicked a header on for him.
A Grimsby free kick on the halfway line brought a chance to create some danger but Hewitt’s ball into the box was headed onto the roof of the net by Pollock.
A shot by Dearnley was blocked after a mistake by Russell, then an Oldham corner from the right on 13 minutes was dealt with by the Town defence.
Preston did well to make an interception and stop a through-ball from Bahamboula, before a free-kick from Jordan Barnett was headed clear and Town broke through Edwards down the left, although he was stopped and the ball was cleared for a throw-in.
A foul on Williams gave the Mariners a free kick on the left on 24 minutes but after Hewitt’s delivery was headed down by Waterfall, nobody could get on the end of it and the ball went through to Oldham keeper Ian Lawlor.
Another free-kick brought a further opportunity for Town to put pressure on the visitors’ goal and this time, Williams’ ball was met by Pollock but his header was caught by Lawlor.
A foul on Green in a similar position brought another free kick on the half-hour but again, Lawlor gathered the ball after Pollock had won the initial header.
Oldham captain Carl Piergianni was shown the yellow card on 33 minutes after bringing Edwards down as he looked to break through the middle. Williams shot from the free-kick but sent his 30-yard effort wide.
Another run by Edwards saw the Bristol City loanee work his way through the middle to the edge of the penalty area but he was unable to apply a finish as he shot wide.
A foul by Pollock on Benjamin Garrity gave the away side a free kick in a dangerous position on 40 minutes but the offside flag went up as the ball was sent into the box.
Oldham won a corner three minutes before the break when a shot by Barnett was deflected behind and it quickly led to another one, which beat everybody and ran out for a Town throw-in.
A good chance for the visitors came as the game moved into one added minute, when a cross from Bahamboula on the right was not fully dealt with. The ball broke for Luamba but his shot deflected off Pollock and went out for a corner.
That proved to be the last opportunity in a half where genuine chances were at a premium, with the deadlock yet to be broken at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and Oldham were the first to attack in the second half, with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson driving a cross-shot across the six-yard line after playing a one-two with Dearnley to get into the box.
A lengthy stoppage came after one of the assistant referees went down with an injury and had to be replaced by the fourth official.
Tilley came on in place of Williams as the Mariners made the first substitution of the game just before the hour.
Russell punched clear after a cross from Borthwick-Jackson, then Fage’s shot from the rebound was deflected wide for a corner.
Another away corner came soon afterwards but Bahamboula’s dangerous-looking delivery was flicked wide of the far post for a goal kick.
Luamba was replaced by Davis Keillar-Dunn for the visitors on 66 minutes, then Garrity was booked for bringing Edwards down in the centre circle as he looked to launch a Town break.
Piergianni headed just wide after an Oldham free-kick was played into the box from the right, as Russell remained largely untroubled with 70 minutes of the game gone.
Clifton was sent on for Morais soon afterwards, then a foul on Edwards brought a free kick on the halfway line. Hewitt’s ball to the edge of the box was headed on but then cleared.
A chance at the other end came when Barnett cut inside from the left and shot from inside the penalty area but Russell got down to make a comfortable stop.
Jackson came on for Edwards with seven minutes to go and Brice Ntambwe was the next to be booked for a foul on Clifton.
Hewitt followed him into the referee’s notebook after a foul in the centre circle, before Preston also saw yellow for a foul 25 yards from his own goal. Bahamboula’s free-kick hit the side-netting.
Eight added minutes was signalled and the visitors had a good opportunity to snatch all three points in the first of them but Barnett’s shot from inside the box was beaten away for a corner by Russell. The flag-kick was headed back across goal by Piergianni and cleared for another corner.
Town pushed forward as the clock ticked down in a bid to grab a winner but it was not to come and the game ended in a stalemate, with both sides picking up a point.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when Cambridge United are the visitors to Blundell Park.
- Sam Russell
- Luke Hendrie
- Danny Preston
- Luke Waterfall (C)
- Matthew Pollock
- Elliott Hewitt
- Filipe Morais
- Danny Rose
- Owura Edwards
- Matt Green
- George Williams
- Ollie Battersby
- Kyle Bennett
- Harry Clifton
- Joseph Starbuck
- James Tilley
- Montel Gibson
- Ira Jackson Jr
- Ian Lawlor
- Dylan Fage
- Cameron Borthwick-Jackson
- Harry Clarke
- Carl Piergianni (C)
- Ben Garrity
- Dylan Bahamboula
- Brice Ntambwe
- Jordan Barnett
- Junior Luamba
- Zachary Dearnley
- Laurence Bilboe
- Sido Jombati
- Raphael Diarra
- Thomas Hamer
- Davis Keillor-Dunn
- Alfie McCalmont
- Callum Whelan
Next Up: Cambridge Utd (H)