REPORT | Mariners knocked out of EFL Trophy

Grimsby Town’s EFL Trophy campaign will end at the group stage after they were beaten by Bradford City at Blundell Park.

In an even first half, Ciaran Kelly opened the scoring for the visitors but the Mariners were behind for less than two minutes until Rekeil Pyke made it 1-1.

Bradford improved after the break and they reclaimed the advantage through Emmanuel Osadebe, who went on to be sent off in the closing stages.

Town had late chances to level the scores but were unable to find the equaliser which would have led to a penalty shoot-out as the away side held on for all three points.

And after a draw with Manchester City U21 and a defeat at Barnsley in their other Group F matches, the Mariners are now unable to make progress into the competition’s knockout rounds.

Seven changes were made to the Grimsby starting line-up following the Sky Bet League Two draw at Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, with only Harvey Rodgers, Michee Efete, Kamil Conteh and Abo Eisa remaining in the XI.

Harvey Cartwright started in goal, with Niall Maher, Jamie Bramwell, Rodgers and Efete forming the defence.  Conteh sat behind Arthur Gnahoua, Gavan Holohan, Alex Hunt and Eisa in midfield, with Pyke leading the attack.

Jake Eastwood, Luke Waterfall, Jamie Andrews, Danny Rose and Cameron Gardner made up a five-man substitutes’ bench.

Bradford’s trip to North East Lincolnshire marked the start of their Trophy campaign, while the Mariners were playing their third and final group match.

Bantams caretaker boss Kevin McDonald named himself as one of nine changes to his starting line-up after Saturday’s victory over Swindon Town.

The visitors created the first chance of the game on two minutes, with Dan Oyegoke getting down the right and pulling the ball back for Osadebe, although he could only side-foot wide.

Kelly was shown an early yellow card for a foul on Pyke but Hunt’s resulting free kick was cleared by Lewis Richards on the edge of the penalty area.

A cross from Oyegoke on the away right went out at the near post for a goal kick, before a low delivery into the box by Maher at the other end was cleared for a throw-in.

Seconds later, the Mariners won the first corner of the evening, although Conteh’s strike was blocked after the ball had been played short from the flag.

Rodgers came out on top in a challenge with striker Tyler Smith on the edge of the Town box, then Cartwright’s first task of the game saw him comfortably catch a cross from the left.

A Ritchie Smallwood corner from the Bradford left was headed away by Rodgers but the visitors kept possession and when they came forward again, they took the lead.  McDonald’s ball into the box was headed back inside by Ash Taylor and KELLY was in place to finish at the near post.

But the Mariners were behind for less than two minutes, as a brilliant cross-field ball from Rogers picked Gnahoua out on the right and his cross was chested into the net by PYKE from close range.

Pyke was caught offside as the hosts immediately aimed to complete the turnaround and a cross from Maher on the right was dealt with as Town attacked again.

Bradford were forced into a substitution on 27 minutes when Oyegoke went down with an injury and was unable to continue.  Brad Halliday was sent on in his place.

Conteh was spoken to by the referee after a late challenge on Osadebe near the home dugout, before a corner from the away right was flicked clear.

Smith hit the outside of the near post after running onto a great through-ball from Smallwood on 37 minutes, then Holohan managed to stay onside to collect a cross-field ball on the right, although his cross was cleared.

A break by Holohan through the middle led to an opening for Pyke four minutes before the break but goalkeeper Colin Doyle was equal to the striker’s shot and managed to divert the ball away from the path off Eisa, who was looking to profit from the rebound.

Smith was caught offside as the visitors aimed to reclaim the advantage ahead of the interval, with the fourth official then indicating a minimum of three added minutes.

Neither side was able to create a further chance before the half-time whistle, leaving the game in the balance at 1-1.


No changes were made before the restart and midfielder Bobby Pointon had the first shooting opportunity of the second half, although his 20-yard effort was straight at Cartwright.

The visitors made no mistake the next time they went forward though, as they snatched the lead back.  OSADEBE got the ball on the left and cut across the penalty area before beating Cartwright with a low, powerful strike.

Bradford looked to have gained in confidence following the goal and they continued to dominate the opening stages of the half, moving forward at pace and forcing mistakes from the Town defence.

Maher had to get back to win a header ahead of Smith and ensure a clever through-ball from Smallwood did not lead to an opening in front of goal, then Smith forced Cartwright into a stop from a low, 20-yard shot.

McDonald was boked for bringing Gnahoua down as the attacker made progress through the middle after running onto a pass from Conteh.  Hunt’s far-post chip from the free kick was headed clear but Town retained possession and Holohan eventually fired over the bar.

The hosts made a double-substitution two minutes after the hour, with Andrews and Gardner replacing Conteh and Eisa.

McDonald fired straight at Cartwright from 25 yards when a free kick was played back to him from the right, before a Town corner from the right was cleared at the near post.

A good block from Maher stopped Smith after the striker had run onto a ball over the top by Halliday, then Cartwright raced off his line to stop another away attack.

The away side were still looking the more dangerous of the two and they made the latest substitution on 72 minutes, with Alex Gilliead replacing Lewis Richards.

Town had struggled to create openings in front of goal since the break, although a run through the middle by Hunt led to Gardner winning a corner when his cross was blocked.

Freddy Jeffreys, Matty Platt and Adam Wilson replaced McDonald, Pointon and Smith as Bradford made a further three changes with nine minutes to go.

The visitors had a corner two minutes later after a shot by Wilson was saved by Cartwright and the rebound was put behind by Rodgers.  The flag-kick caused no problems.

Gardner got back to win the ball ahead of Jeffreys and clear the danger after a spell of Bradford possession, with the visitors looking to see out the remainder of the contest.

But they were reduced to 10 men for the closing stages, after a flashpoint developed when Osadebe reacted to a strong challenge by Rodgers.  When calm was restored, Osadebe was shown a straight red card, with Rodgers seeing yellow.

As the game moved into added time, the Mariners pushed forward in search of an equaliser to take the game to a penalty shoot-out.

Pyke headed wide from a Holohan cross, then as the clock ticked down, there was another opportunity when the ball fell for Pyke but he was unable to force it into the net.

That proved to be the last chance for the hosts to get themselves level, as the referee’s final whistle confirmed that Bradford would take all three points back to West Yorkshire.

The focus now switches back to the league programme, with the Mariners next in action when they host Accrington Stanley at Blundell Park on Saturday.



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