Grimsby Town extended their unbeaten league run to five games but were unable to hold onto a lead as Walsall came from behind to earn a point at Blundell Park.
The Mariners controlled the first half and went in at the interval with a deserved advantage after Bryn Morris scored with a superb curling strike from 25 yards.
But the visitors hit back through their captain Donervon Daniels five minutes after the interval and as the tempo of the game dropped, neither side could find a winner.
Three changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI following Wednesday’s goalless draw at Mansfield Town, as Michee Efete, Kieran Green and Danny Amos replaced Josh Emmanuel, Gavan Holohan and Anthony Glennon.
Goalkeeper Max Crocombe lined up behind a back three of Andy Smith, Luke Waterfall and Niall Maher, with Efete and Amos in the wing-back roles. Green was alongside Morris in the centre of midfield, with John McAtee behind George Lloyd and Ryan Taylor in attack.
Emmanuel was named on the bench and was joined among the substitutes by Otis Khan, Harry Clifton, Alex Hunt, Mikey O’Neill, Danilo Orsi and Evan Khouri.
Walsall were looking to make it back-to-back victories after a 2-0 home success against Gillingham last time out, although that marked the end of a sequence of 12 games in Sky Bet League Two without a win which stretched back to New Year’s Day.
Saddlers boss Michael Flynn named former Mariners loanee Brandon Comley among his starting XI, with strikers Conor Wilkinson and Tom Knowles looking to get the goals.
The visitors won the first corner of the game in the opening minute when a long throw from the left was headed behind. Liam Kinsella’s ball from the flag was cleared by McAtee.
A foul on Lloyd on the left gave Town their first opportunity to attack and it led to a good chance as Amos’ ball into the box was helped on by Maher and Taylor but Lloyd’s shot was deflected wide for a corner, which was flicked wide by Maher.
Morris played a great ball down the right for Lloyd on five minutes as the Mariners created another opening, although the attacker’s pull-back proved just too far ahead of strike-partner Taylor.
McAtee fired over the bar from 20 yards after linking up with Lloyd as Town’s strong start to the contest continued, before a foul by Green on Kinsella gave the away side a chance to respond with some pressure of their own. Joe Riley’s ball towards the far post was a good one but the referee blew for a foul and a Grimsby free kick.
A push on Lloyd by defender Oisin McEntee brought another free kick on the home left and after Amos’ delivery was headed up into the air by Green, the midfielder collected the ball on the right and a cross was headed off-target by Maher.
Amos saw a shot blocked from distance after more good play by Lloyd, before attempts by McAtee and green were also blocked after a pull-back by Efete from the right.
Wilkinson had a chance at the other end after Kinsella dispossessed Green, although the striker’s low shot from the edge of the box went wide of Crocombe’s far post.
Amos then won a corner on the Town left on 19 minutes and this time, it led to the opening goal. Amos’ driven delivery was cleared as far as MORRIS and he took a touch before curling a brilliant shot past Walsall goalkeeper Owen Evans from 25 yards.
The visitors’ response saw Wilkinson skip past Morris down the right and make his way into the penalty area but his shot was blocked and Knowles was unable to take advantage from the rebound.
McEntee won a corner on the right but the flag-kick caused no problems, then a strike by McAtee at the other end was straight at Evans.
Wilkinson beat Waterfall down the away left and hit a cross which was blocked for a corner, although Riley’s ball from the flag was eventually dealt with after it had been headed on at the near post.
A promising attack by the visitors came to an end when Wilkinson was caught offside, then Town had a free kick in a central position when Lloyd was fouled by Daniels. As the rain falling on Blundell Park turned heavier, McAtee stepped up to take it but his shot deflected off the Walsall wall.
McEntee was shown the first of the game’s nine yellow cards on 37 minutes after dragging Taylor down as he looked to get on the end of a clever through-ball from Morris. Amos sent the free kick to the far post and it was volleyed back across goal by Green before being cleared for a throw-in by Isaac Hutchinson.
Another opening came five minutes before the break after Amos got to the by-line on the left. The ball broke for Lloyd but his shot went past the far post.
A cross from Efete was collected by Evans and the right wing-back stayed down afterwards, with a stoppage coming soon afterwards as Crocombe also went down, with Efete being treated off the pitch at the other end. Both were eventually passed fit to continue.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the first half and a foul on Lloyd led to another Town free kick, this time on the right. Morris’ delivery was headed away by Knowles and the referee blew for a Walsall free kick following an infringement inside the box.
That proved to be the final opportunity of the half and the Mariners went in at the break with a single-goal advantage.
Hayden White and Andy Williams replaced Comley and Jacob Maddox as Walsall made a double-substitution before the restart.
Lloyd was brought down by McEntee to give Town a free kick on the left two minutes in but Amos’ free kick was too high for Waterfall and after Green collected the loose ball on the right, his cross went out for a goal kick.
Maher was booked after catching Kinsella in a sliding challenge and the free kick came to nothing but the visitors won a corner on their right soon afterwards. From it, they were level as Town failed to clear Riley’s ball from the flag and after it had bounced around the six-yard box, DANIELS pounced to put it into the net, off the underside of the crossbar.
Town’s response saw Morris shoot from distance again but this time, his low effort was stopped by Evans in the Walsall goal.
A long throw from Knowles was headed behind for an away corner on 54 minutes but Waterfall was in place to deal with Riley’s delivery from the flag.
At the other end, a powerful McAtee volley flew just off-target, before a Waterfall header was acrobatically pushed over the bar by Evans. A scuffle followed involving a number of players from both sides and afterwards, Evans and White were both shown the yellow card but the free kick went to the away side.
A Manny Monthe cross deflected off Efete for a corner and it led to another one when Town failed to clear their lines and a shot by Daniels was blocked by Amos. Again, the ball from the flag ended up with Daniels after it had been played back across goal but the defender could not force it into the net from a narrow angle.
McAtee headed an Amos cross over the bar on 64 minutes, before he side-footed another effort off-target after linking up with Taylor on the edge of the box.
A late challenge by Smith earned the defender a yellow card on 73 minutes and by that point, the tempo of the game had dropped noticeably, with goalmouth action now at a premium.
A free kick from Crocombe was cleared after Taylor had won the initial header, then Morris was booked for bringing Wilkinson down as the visitors looked to break over the halfway line.
Efete headed wide after meeting an Amos cross from the left with seven minutes to go, then a cross from the right wing-back was cleared as Town continued to search for a second goal.
Khan replaced Lloyd for the hosts and Matt Stevens came on in place of Wilkinson for Walsall as both sides made a change on 85 minutes in a bid to force a winning goal.
Amos became the fifth Town player to be shown the yellow card after a challenge from behind and another foul, this time by Maher, gave the visitors a free kick in a dangerous position on their right. Riley’s delivery from it was headed away by Smith.
Hutchinson saw a low shot deflect off Efete for a corner as the game moved into five added minutes but Riley’s ball from the flag was flicked wide for a goal kick.
Daniels became the fourth Walsall player to be booked as Town were given a free kick near the halfway line, although they could not turn it into a decisive goal as Green sent a diving header wide.
At the other end, a shot from Monthe on the right whistled just over Crocombe’s bar and with no further chances coming for either side, both were forced to settle for a draw.
The Mariners are next in action on Tuesday, when they make the long journey to face Crawley Town.