REPORT | Mariners held

A late penalty denied Grimsby Town all three points as they were forced to settle for an away draw with Sutton United.

The Mariners were on top for long periods on their second visit to London inside a week and looked on course for victory after Justin Obikwu’s first goal for the club gave them the advantage just before half-time.

Town had chances to add to their lead as Sutton offered little in attack for most of the contest.

But the hosts were handed a way back into the game with two minutes to go when an infringement inside the box was spotted by the assistant referee and Charlie Lakin scored from the spot to snatch a share of the spoils.

Two changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI following the goalless draw at AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday, with Kieran Green and Obikwu coming in for Jamie Andrews and Donovan Wilson.

Harvey Cartwright was again protected by a three-man defence of Toby Mullarkey, Doug Tharme and Harvey Rodgers, with Harry Clifton and Denver Hume in the wing-back positions.  Green slotted in alongside Gavan Holohan and Curtis Thompson in midfield, with Obikwu joining Danny Rose in attack.

Andrews and Wilson were both named on the bench, as were Jake Eastwood, Liam Smith, Harry Wood, Abo Eisa and Rekeil Pyke.

Bottom-of-the-table Sutton were looking for a win to boost their hopes of staying in Sky Bet League Two, with Steve Morison’s side starting the day eight points behind the Mariners in 21st place.

Obikwu was caught offside after running onto a chip from Rose, then a long throw at the other end was cleared as neither goalkeeper was called into early action.

Clifton won the game’s first corner on seven minutes but the ball from the flag was punched clear by home stopper Steve Arnold.

A foul on Obikwu gave Town a free kick on the right soon afterwards and after the delivery into the box from it was not dealt with, an Obikwu header was cleared off the line.

Another free kick on 15 minutes led to a Clifton cross being flicked away for a corner, which was headed over the bar by Rose.

Town had been the brighter of the two teams over a scrappy first 20 minutes and Sutton’s first corner failed to cause a problem for Cartwright as the ball from it was headed harmlessly wide.

A deep cross from the home right was comfortably caught by Cartwright, then Obikwu did well to win a free kick on the left edge of the box at the other end.  Holohan took it but could only send the ball curling over the bar at the far post.
Clifton forced Arnold to dive and make a stop from his low, 20-yard shot after a flowing attack on 28 minutes.

Sutton then had a free kick in a promising position after a foul by Thompson but Stephen Duke-McKenna could only float it over the bar from 25 yards.

Another home free kick was dealt with by the Town defence, before Hume looked for Obikwu with a low ball from a set piece at the other end but it was overhit and Arnold gathered.

Arnold got a to Holohan cross ahead of Obikwu and the Coventry City loanee went close again when a Clifton cross was touched on by Rose into his path but this time, Arnold made a good block.

Town were not to be denied for much longer though, as they found a breakthrough on 44 minutes.  A  corner from the right was not cleared and after the ball was headed back into the box by Clifton, OBIKWU got to it first and flicked past the keeper in front of the travelling fans.

As the half moved into one added minute, there was almost a chance for the Mariners to double their advantage when a long throw from Tharme was flicked on by Rose but the ball bounced in front of Obikwu and Arnold claimed it.

That proved to be the last opportunity before half-time and  the visitors went in at the break with a single-goal lead.


Sutton made a double-substitution before the restart, with Olly Sanderson replacing Jack Taylor and Omar Sowunmi coming on for former Mariners midfielder Craig Clay.

Obikwu won an early corner on the left but the ball from it was caught by Arnold, then a Green cross was headed away.

A shot from Obikwu was well-blocked by Sowunmi as Town’s positive start to the second half continued, before a Hume corner was cleared at the near post.

Thompson was booked after a foul on Ryan Jackson on the home right but the free kick was headed away, with Green completing the clearance.

Sanderson missed the target with a first-time strike from 20 yards, before a Tharme long throw at the other end went all the way through to keeper Arnold.

The next opportunity fell for Holohan after a neat one-two with Green.  The midfielder let fly from distance but Arnold dived to tip the shot away for a corner.

Obikwu called the keeper into action again to stop a shot at his near post after a run and pass from Mullarkey, as Town kept looking for a second goal.

Wilson replaced Obikwu in Town’s first change just after the hour, then another double-substitution for the hosts saw Josh Coley and Dean Moore come on for Sam Hart and Duke-McKenna.

A push on Rose brought a free kick on the left on 66 minutes but Hume’s delivery into the box was headed clear.  Sutton broke down their right but a cross was cleared by Tharme for a throw-in.

Arnold made a great save to deny Green from a 20-yard half-volley when a free kick dropped for him, then another effort by Green was blocked for a corner, which led to Rodgers heading against the bar.

A free kick at the other end caused problems inside the Town penalty area but after a shot by Harry Smith was blocked, the ball was eventually cleared for a corner.  It was tipped over the bar by Cartwright for another one and this time, the danger from the flag was cleared.

Rose was booked for kicking the ball away after a free kick was given to Sutton, with the hosts now pushing forward in search of an equaliser as the clock ticked into the last 10 minutes.

Rodgers became the next to see the yellow card after bringing Sanderson down 30 yards from goal.  Lakin’s free kick was eventually gathered by Cartwright at the second attempt.

Another Lakin free kick resulted in a corner when a shot by Craig Eastmond was blocked and when the ball came in from the flag, a key moment came when the assistant referee spotted an infringement and flagged for a Sutton penalty.  After a long discussion, the referee pointed to the spot and LAKIN stepped up to beat Cartwright and level the scores.

Town were given a minimum of six added minutes to grab the advantage back and a low strike by Holohan was well-blocked by Arnold.

The away side kept going forward but they were unable to find a way through and were forced to return home with a single point.

The Mariners are back in action on Tuesday, when Milton Keynes Dons will be the visitors to Blundell Park.



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