Grimsby Town were forced to settle for their second consecutive goalless draw as they were held by promotion-chasing Tranmere Rovers at Blundell Park.
A largely scrappy contest was shaded by the visitors in the first half but after the break, the Mariners grew in confidence and saw much more of the ball in attacking areas.
Town pushed forward in search of a crucial goal as the clock ticked down but they were unable to find it as their visitors held on for a share of the spoils.
Boss Paul Hurst named the same Grimsby team that began the 0-0 draw with Colchester on Saturday.
That meant goalkeeper James McKeown was protected by a defence of Luke Hendrie, Elliott Hewitt, Rollin Menayese and Harry Clifton, while Filipe Morais, Jay Matete, Giles Coke and Julien Lamy started in midfield and Lenell John-Lewis again wore the captain’s armband as he partnered James Hanson in attack.
The substitutes were also unchanged, with Ollie Battersby, Luke Waterfall, Ira Jackson Jr, Stefan Payne, Matt Green, Danny Rose and Joe Adams beginning the game on the bench.
Tranmere were looking to bounce back after losing to Sunderland in the Papa John’s Trophy final at Wembley on Sunday.
Keith Hill’s men were fifth in the League Two table at kick-off and were one of three teams on 57 points, four points off the automatic promotion places.
Their starting line-up included plenty of experience in the likes of former Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing and striker David Nugent, who played in the Premier League for Portsmouth, Burnley, Leicester City and Middlesbrough and was a goalscorer for England in 2007.
Town’s first attack of note saw Clifton find Lamy down the left but his low cross was cut out for a throw-in, which led to a Tranmere free kick for a foul as the ball was headed clear.
Lamy was then shown the first yellow card of the the evening on eight minutes after catching defender Peter Clarke with a high foot in a late challenge.
A foul on Coke gave the Mariners a free kick inside the Tranmere half and Morais’ ball was headed on for Lamy but he could only volley wide of the near post from a narrow angle.
The visitors won the first corner on 14 minutes, although the ball from the flag was headed away and eventually went out for a goal kick after it was played back into the penalty area.
A ball across the box from Kaiyne Woolery on the Tranmere right beat everybody and rolled away to safety, before a foul on Corey Blackett-Taylor brought a free kick in a dangerous position, left of centre. From it, a header was kept out by McKeown, who dived to push the ball away from goal.
Another away corner came on 22 minutes but it caused no problems as Hanson headed clear at the near post.
John-Lewis was spoken to by the referee after a foul on defender Liam Ridehalgh, before Woolery controlled a long, cross-field pass from Spearing at the other end and hit a shot from 20 yards which was deflected behind for a corner.
It had been a scrappy opening to the game but as the half-hour mark passed, Tranmere were controlling possession and creating the better openings, albeit without causing serious problems for McKeeown or his defence.
A home free kick on 39 minutes was sent into the box from the centre circle by Hendrie but the ball was cleared after Hanson had won the initial header.
Town had another opportunity to create danger five minutes later with a corner on the left, although Morais’ ball from the flag was prodded wide by Hewitt after it was missed by a defender.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and after a late chance for the visitors was not taken as Nugent headed over the bar from Liam Feeney’s cross, the scoreline remained goalless at the break.
No changes were made before the restart and an early yellow card came for Blackett-Taylor after he caught Hendrie with a late challenge as the right-back played the ball down the line.
Morais went down with an injury on 53 minutes and was replaced by Jackson as Town made the first substitution of the game.
Danny Lloyd replaced Blackett-Taylor for the away side soon afterwards, before a corner from the Tranmere right was dealt with.
A low, first-time shot by Spearing took a deflection and went wide for another corner on 58 minutes but again, the danger from the flag was cleared.
The Mariners broke soon afterwards as Jackson sent Lamy clear down the left, although the winger was unable to turn it into a goalscoring opportunity as Tranmere got men back to cover.
Clifton was booked for a foul on Woolery and the resulting free kick from the away right led to the next chance as the ball was met by centre-back George Ray but his header flew over the bar.
Lamy sent a low volley wide at the other end after a good flick-on by Hanson, then another chance came for the Mariners amid aa promising spell as Jackson found John-Lewis but the striker’s shot was stopped by keeper Scott Davies.
Ridehalgh was booked for a foul on Lamy, then as the hosts continued to attack, a cross from Coke was deflected behind for a corner on the left. The ball from the flag was hacked clear.
Town were getting on top and a ball into the box from Jackson almost led to an own-goal as Ray’s header just cleared the bar, with the defender relieved to only concede a corner.
Kieron Morris replaced Paul Lewis in the away midfield and Ali Crawford came on for Nugent as the visitors made a double-substitution with 13 minutes to go.
A foul on Lamy gave the Mariners a free kick inside the Tranmere half but the ball from it was hacked clear, then Menayese shot wide after it was worked back into the box.
The away side looked to be hanging on for a draw as Town pressed forward in search of a priceless winning goal.
A break by the visitors led to a corner after Hendrie did well to get back and before it was taken, Feeney was replaced by Manny Monthe.
Another corner came on 88 minutes and this time, it should have led to the deadlock being broken in favour of the visitors but Clarke could only send his towering header over the bar.
A long-range effort by Clifton was held by Davies as Town kept looking for a winner to breathe new life into their bid to stay in League Two but after three minutes of added time, that goal was not to come and the game finised level.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Mansfield Town.
1 James McKeown
2 Luke Hendrie
15 Harry Clifton
22 Elliott Hewitt
26 Rollin Menayese
20 Jay Matete
18 Filipe Morais
8 Giles Coke
42 Julien Lamy
21 Lenell John-Lewis (C)
9 James Hanson
13 Ollie Battersby
6 Luke Waterfall
45 Joe Adams
4 Danny Rose
7 Matt Green
16 Ira Jackson Jr
40 Stefan Payne
1 Scott Davies (C)
3 Liam Ridehalgh
18 Calum MacDonald
26 Peter Clarke
21 George Ray
8 Jay Spearing
22 Paul Lewis
19 Liam Feeney
28 David Nugent
14 Kaiyne Woolery
11 Corey Taylor
13 Joe Murphy
6 Emmanuel Monthe
15 Alister Crawford
16 Nya Kirby
35 Danny Lloyd
7 Kieron Morris
12 Charlie Jolley
Referee: Robert Lewis
Next Up: Mansfield Town (A)