REPORT | Mariners point in the capital

Grimsby Town earned a precious away point from a goalless draw with play-off-chasing AFC Wimbledon.

In a game of few chances in south-west London, the Mariners produced another performance full of effort and determination to ensure they would return home with a share of the spoils.

With none of Sky Bet League Two’s bottom three in action, it was an opportunity for Town to move further clear of the teams below them in the table and a disciplined display gave them that reward, as well as a deserved second consecutive clean sheet.

The Grimsby starting XI was unchanged after Saturday’s home victory over Forest Green Rovers, with goalkeeper Harvey Cartwright behind a back three of Toby Mullarkey, Doug Tharme and Harvey Rodgers.  Harry Clifton and Denver Hume again took up wing-back positions, as Gavan Holohan, Curtis Thompson and Jamie Andrews made up the midfield and Donovan Wilson joined Danny Rose in attack.

Justin Obikwu returned to the bench after missing the previous game through international duty with Trinidad and Tobago, while Jake Eastwood, Kieran Green, Liam Smith, Harry Wood, Abo Eisa and Rekeil Pyke were also selected as substitutes.

Wimbledon began the evening four points away from the final play-off position and looking to get closer to the division’s top seven with a positive result.  They were also aiming for back-to-back wins after a weekend success against MK Dons.

Manager Johnnie Jackson would look to his top scorer and former Mariners attacker James Tilley to add to his 10 goals so far this season, while Josh Kelly provided further firepower.

After a cagey opening to the game, a foul on Thompson gave Town their first opportunity to get the ball into the home penalty area on four minutes.  Andrews curled the free kick to the penalty spot but Rodgers could only send a free header narrowly wide.

Clifton won the game’s first corner two minutes later on the right, although Andrews’ near-post delivery was headed clear.

Jake Reeves fired over the bar from 20 yards at the end of a quick break as the hosts launched their opening attack, before a foul on Wilson gave the Mariners another free kick at the other end.  This time, the ball was played short for Hume to send it into the box and when it was cleared as far as Andrews, his curling shot was caught by goalkeeper Alex Bass.

A low Josh Neufville cross was deflected out for a home corner on 15 minutes but Tilley’s looping delivery from the flag was too high for anybody to connect with it.

Rose headed at Bass after Holohan had linked up with Clifton to create an opening from the right, then Cartwright got down to make a good save from Jack Currie’s first-time, 25-yard strike at the other end.
The game was moving from end to end as the 20-minute mark passed and a well-timed challenge by Hume stopped a dangerous-looking run from Neufville on the Wimbledon right, with Cartwright then fouled as the ball was thrown into the box.

Town’s best chance so far came on 26 minutes when Holohan picked Rose out with a chip into the box, although good defending by Currie saw him block the striker’s route to goal and he could only shoot wide from close range.

Thompson was shown the game’s first yellow card for pulling Armani Little back as he aimed to break over the halfway line.

A long throw from Tharme was headed behind for a Town corner on the half-hour and the ball from the flag was headed back across goal but the home defence recovered to clear.

Another Tharme long throw was headed away, before a cross at the other end was comfortably claimed by Cartwright.

Neufville won a corner on 40 minutes when his cross deflected off Hume but Rose was in place to head the flag-kick clear.

Reeves hit a dipping volley from 25 yards soon afterwards which Cartwright did well to tip over his bar for a corner and the pressure continued as it turned into another one but this time, the keeper came off his line to confidently claim the ball.

Wilson hit the bar with a snap-shot from 12 yards after battling with defender Lee Brown for the ball, then Holohan was booked for pulling Kelly back as he attempted to break.

One added minute was played at the end of the first half and with no further chances coming for either side, it remained goalless at the break.


No changes were made before the restart and Town looked to have created the first chance of the second half but Rose and Wilson collided with each other inside the box.

Seconds later, Tilley connected with a left-wing cross at the other end but headed straight at Cartwright.

A long throw from Kofi Balmer was headed through to the keeper by Ronan Curtis, then a foul by Rodgers on Kelly gave the hosts a free kick on their right.  Reeves sent it to the far post but the ball was headed over the bar for a goal kick.

Tharme and Cartwright combined to get to a ball from Tilley ahead of Neufville, then after the resulting throw-in was cleared, Town broke but the attack was stopped and a foul by Wilson gave Wimbledon possession.  Curtis was then booked for a foul on Tharme, which the referee had initially played an advantage for.

Andrews became the next to see the yellow card after a trip on Tilley and this time, the free kick from the right was cleared to the edge of the box, where Little sent a dipping half-volley just over the bar.
Clifton got back well to challenge Curtis on the home left on 67 minutes and get the ball away for a corner, which was well-claimed by Cartwright.

Town’s first substitution came two minutes later and saw Wood replace Andrews in midfield, then the next opportunity went to Wimbledon when a push by Clifton gave them a free kick on the left.  The delivery from it was headed clear but the home side retained possession until a Neufville cross was headed at Cartwright by Curtis.

The Town keeper came off his line to gather after Curtis failed to fully control a long ball forward, before Josh Davison replaced Kelly in Wimbledon’s first change with 14 minutes to go.
Clifton won a corner when his header from a Wood cross was blocked, although nobody could get on the end of Wood’s delivery from the flag.

Wilson and John-Joe O’Toole both needed treatment after a clash of heads on the edge of the Wimbledon box before re-joining the action, then good defending by Rose stopped the latest home attack and earned a free kick for his side.

Green and Obikwu were sent on in place of Thompson and Wilson with four minutes to go as Town looked for a late breakthrough.

Another Wimbledon corner was caught by Cartwright, before Green had to concede a further flag-kick to stop a purposeful run from Little.  John-Kymani Gordon replaced Neufville before it was taken and after the corner was half-cleared, Cartwright bravely dived at the feet of the substitute to make the ball his.

Five added minutes were played and a strike by Tilley was brilliantly blocked by Green at the edge of the box, before Tilley missed the target with a low effort from 20 yards.

That proved to be the last chance for either side to grab all three points, with the outstanding Cartwright and his Mariners team-mates following up the weekend’s win with a second clean sheet in a row to claim a deserved draw.

Town are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Sutton United.



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