REPORT | Mariners come back from two down to draw at Forest Green

Substitute Donovan Wilson scored twice as Grimsby Town recovered from 2-0 down at half-time to earn a draw with Forest Green Rovers at the Bolt New Lawn.

Both sides created chances in an open first 45 minutes but the hosts, with a strong wind behind them. made theirs count as Kyle McAllister opened the scoring from the penalty spot before adding a second goal with a well-executed chip.

But the Mariners fought back well after the interval and within seconds of coming off the bench, Wilson got the final touch to Gavan Holohan’s goalbound shot to halve the deficit.

And the striker went on to grab the equaliser with 10 minutes remaining, to secure a precious point for Town on the road in Gloucestershire and extend the unbeaten run under interim co-head coaches Ben Davies and Shaun Pearson to four games in all competitions.

Two changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI following the 7-2 Emirates FA Cup victory over Slough Town in midweek, with Harvey Rodgers and Anthony Glennon both returning to the back four as Luke Waterfall and Danny Amos moved to the bench.

Goalkeeper Harvey Cartwright lined up behind a defence of Toby Mullarkey, Rodgers, Niall Maher and Glennon, while the midfield of Holohan, Kieran Green and Jamie Andrews remained unchanged and Arthur Gnahoua, Danny Rose and Rekeil Pyke again formed the attack.

Waterfall and Amos were joined as substitutes by Jake Eastwood, Callum Ainley, Wilson, Alex Hunt and Kamil Conteh.

Forest Green came into the game looking for a win which could move them out of the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone, depending on results elsewhere.

Manager David Horseman was without suspended former Watford striker Troy Deeney, so he would instead look to the likes of McAllister and Tyrese Omotoye to get the goals.

The game kicked off in blustery conditions and Cartwright had to come to the edge of his penalty area to ensure he was first to an early through-ball.

Town had the first shooting chance when Gnahoua pulled the ball back for Holohan from the right but the midfielder’s 20-yard shot went over the bar.

Rose then picked up an early booking for a late challenge on defender Jordan Moore-Taylor and the yellow card came out again with less than six minutes on the clock, this time for the home side’s Dominic Bernard after a foul on Holohan.

From the resulting free kick, the Mariners went close to taking the lead when the ball was played to Green on the right side of the box.  He pulled it back across the six-yard line and Rodgers got his boot to it but his shot was blocked on the line.

A smart reaction save from Cartwright at the other end got the ball away for a corner after a a low cross from Jacob Maddox had taken a deflection off Rodgers to send it towards the near post.  The flag-kick was played short and an attempted cross from Fantaky Dabo was blocked for a throw-in.

A Glennon cross on 12 minutes was headed away but Town retained possession and Andrews did well to win a corner on the left, which was eventually cleared.  Forest Green broke through McAllister but he was forced wide.

The game was moving from end to end at pace and a shot from Pyke drew a good save from home goalkeeper James Belshaw, then defender Reece Welch made a vital interception from a ball into the box by Mullarkey.

Rodgers blocked a McAllister cross from the left to give the hosts a corner on 17 minutes, although the ball from the flag was cleared by Maher.

McAllister was inches away from giving his side the lead two minutes later with a clever chip from 25 yards but with Cartwright beaten, the ball bounced back off the crossbar.

Callum Jones then tried his luck from distance as the hosts used the strong wind to their advantage, although his strike was off-target.

Town were pressing well as Forest Green aimed to play out from the back and the visitors were seeing plenty of the ball in attacking areas.

But the home side had created the clearer chances at the half-hour mark and Cartwright made another important save to deny Maddox and keep the score goalless after a McAllister shot had first deflected into the path of Omotoye.

A low cross by Gnahoua was cleared as Town looked for an opening, then another clearance was made after a long ball into the box from Mullarkey was met by Rose.

Good defending by Maher saw him stop Maddox to end a quick counter-attack from an away free kick, with the centre-back going on to clear the danger.

But the hosts were given an opportunity to open the scoring on 37 minutes when Jones went down inside the box under a challenge from Maher.  The referee pointed to the penalty spot, where McALLISTER stepped up to send Cartwright the wrong way.

Another shot by the lively McAllister led to a corner on the right and a claim for a second penalty came soon afterwards when he was eased off the ball by Rodgers.  This time, the referee waved play-on.

Town fell further behind a minute before the break though, when a mistake in defence led to the ball being played through the middle for McALLISTER, who worked an opening on the edge of the box and measured a delicate chip which dropped into the net to make it 2-0.

Three added minutes were played at the end of the half and with no further chances coming for either side, the Mariners were left with plenty of work to do after the interval, when the wind would be in their favour.


Conteh replaced Green before the restart and an overhead kick by Pyke was deflected wide for a corner after a Glennon cross was not cleared, as Town started on the attack.  Glennon’s ball from the flag was flicked just wide of the far post by Rodgers.

The visitors created another chance on 50 minutes when Andrews found Holohan on the edge of the box but his first-time shot flew just over the bar.

Holohan was involved again soon afterwards as he met a brilliant ball from Glennon on the left, only for his header to be caught by keeper Belshaw.

Another acrobatic effort by Pyke dropped just wide as the opportunities kept coming for the Mariners, before a Forest Green free kick was eventually dealt with as the hosts threatened for the first time since play resumed.

It proved to be the start of a spell of home pressure which led to a corner as a low ball was put behind.  And from the flag-kick, McAllister went close to completing his hat-trick when his flicked header flashed just wide of the far post.

A weak shot by Andrews caused no problems for Belshaw after Glennon picked the midfielder out on the edge of the box from a right-wing corner, then a deep cross from Mullarkey was headed out for another corner by Bernard as the defender got to the ball ahead of Pyke.

Wilson replaced Pyke before the corner was taken, with Sean Robertson coming on in place of Maddox for Forest Green at the same time.  And when the ball was eventually sent in from the flag, the Mariners made it 2-1.  Glennon’s delivery fell for Holohan and after he fired it towards goal, WILSON got the final touch to take it into the net.

Wilson hit the side-netting after good play by Andrews, then a corner from the Town left was cleared after Rose’s cross had been deflected behind, as the visitors continued to go forward.

Holohan headed over the bar from a Glennon cross on 74 minutes, then Hunt replaced Gnahoua in Grimsby’s latest substitution.

The Mariners got themselves back on level terms with 10 minutes to go, as WILSON won the ball to go clear though the middle and kept his composure to slot past Belshaw.

The home side had a chance to reclaim the advantage almost straight away when Dabo crossed from the right for Omotoye but Cartwright made a superb save, diving low to get the the striker’s downward header.

A Forest Green penalty appeal was ignored by the referee when Robertson went down under contact from Conteh, before McAllister was replaced by Teddy Jenks.

Robertson saw a shot blocked and Maddox missed the target after Forest Green kept possession, with both sides now looking for a winning goal as the game moved into five added minutes.

A Town corner was dealt with at the other end as Glennon’s cross was headed up in the air but then caught by Belshaw.

Amos replaced Holohan for the Mariners and Darnell Johnson came on for Jones in the green of the home side as both management teams made a further change with three of the five extra minutes remaining.

Robertson had a chance to win the game soon afterwards when Jenks pulled the ball back from the right but he could only lift it over the bar under pressure from Rodgers.

And that proved to be the final opportunity for either side to snatch a victory so instead, they were left with a point each.

Town are next in action on Saturday, when Sutton United will be the visitors to Blundell Park.


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