REPORT | Mariners settle for point

Grimsby Town earned a valuable away point from a goalless draw with Accrington Stanley.
The Mariners were the better side for much of a contest of few genuine chances in east Lancashire but could not find a winning goal.
Accrington started brightly but Town grew into the game as the first half went on and they created the clearer opportunities, albeit without seriously testing Radek Vitek in the home goal.
The visitors continued to attack in search of a breakthrough after the interval but it was not to come, although they remained solid at the back to ensure an improved performance was rewarded with a clean sheet and a deserved share of the spoils.
All three transfer deadline day signings came straight into the Grimsby starting XI, with Liam Smith, Denver Hume and Curtis Thompson handed their first starts in black and white.  They were among six changes to the team that began last week’s home defeat by Tranmere Rovers as Niall Maher, Gavan Holohan and Arthur Gnahoua returned, with Toby Mullarkey, Doug Tharme, Anthony Glennon, Kieran Green, Jamie Andrews and Harry Wood making way.
Harvey Cartwright started in goal, with Smith, Harvey Rodgers, Maher and Hume forming a new-look defence.  Thompson lined up behind the midfield of Gnahoua, Holohan, Harry Clifton and Abo Eisa, while Danny Rose wore the captain’s armband as he led the attack.
Mullarkey, Green, Andrews and Wood were all selected on the bench, where they were joined by Jake Eastwood, Charles Vernam and Justin Obikwu.
Accrington began the day 11th in the Sky Bet League Two table but just three points adrift of the final play-off place and looking to get closer to the top seven.
Long-serving manager John Coleman gave a debut to attacker Jake Bickerstaff after he joined on loan from Wrexham on deadline day, while Manchester United loanee goalkeeper Vitek made his first home appearance.
Ben Woods had the first chance of the game for the home side but Cartwright got a hand to his 20-yard effort and tipped it over the bar for a corner.  That turned into a second flag-kick, which was headed clear.
Jack Nolan sent a strike whistling over the bar from distance after dispossessing Holohan in midfield, before Smith ran the ball out when aiming to cross from the right as Town attacked for the first time.
Gnahoua forced Vitek into a save after cutting inside from the right and letting fly, although Rose was flagged offside as he got to the rebound first.
Holohan also tried his luck from distance as the end-to-end opening to the game continued but his shot was deflected through to Vitek.
Gnahoua missed the target from the edge of the penalty area on 13 minutes, before a neat move from the left led to Town’s first corner.  It was played short to Hume and he found Gnahoua but the winger’s shot was blocked.
Clifton was given a warning after a foul on midfielder Dan Martin but the resulting free kick from the home left was well-caught by Cartwright.
Vitek got to a low cross from Clifton ahead of Rose just before the half-hour, then Nolan took advantage of a mistake by Smith at the other end to cut inside from the left and hit a shot which was deflected wide of the far post for a corner.  The hosts worked the ball short from the flag until Alex Henderson fired at Cartwright from 25 yards.
A home corner on 36 minutes was headed clear, before Eisa won a flag-kick at the other end.  Hume’s delivery from the left was met by Rodgers but his volley flew off-target.
Town kept attacking and Rose won another corner soon afterwards when his cross from the left was blocked.  This time, Hume’s ball was headed away by Lewis Shipley.
The Mariners were starting to get on top as half-time loomed and they went close to taking the lead when a strike by Holohan was deflected just wide for a further corner, which led to a Clifton shot being blocked.
One added minute was played at the end of the first half and with no further chances coming for either side, the game remained goalless at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and Ben Woods was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon after an early foul on Holohan near the halfway line.
Hume had to concede a corner after a dangerous ball from the home left flashed across goal but the delivery from the flag was confidently claimed by Cartwright.
Vitek had to be quick off his line to beat Rose to a pass from Holohan after a run through the middle by Hume, then a Smith cross from the right was caught by the keeper as the visitors attacked again.
Tommy Leigh replaced Bickerstaff and Joe Pritchard came on for Henderson as Accrington made the first substitutions on 58 minutes.
The hosts went on to win a corner three minutes later but Pritchard’s near-post delivery was headed clear by Holohan.
Josh Woods was unable to get on the end of a deep cross from the right as Cartwright remained largely untroubled in the Town goal, then a Gnahoua cross at the other end was caught by Vitek.
Vernam replaced Gnahoua and Green was sent on in place of Thompson in a double-substitution for the away side on 68 minutes and a foul on Rose soon afterwards gave them a free kick on the right. Hume swung it to the far post but Rodgers could only head wide.
A low ball from Hume on the left was cut out for a corner as the Town pressure continued but the ball from the flag was cleared from danger.
Clifton sent a low shot wide after winning the ball in midfield and making progress through the middle, then Accrington’s third change saw Seamus Conneely replace Ben Woods.
A well-worked throw-in on the Town left led to a corner and it turned into another one as the visitors kept looking for a breakthrough.  This time, the ball was turned wide by Green.
Holohan sent a low shot through to Vitek, before Hume was booked for pulling Nolan down on the home right.  The free kick from Nolan was caught by Cartwright.
Town continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides and Smith won a corner on the right with eight minutes to go.  Hume found Green from the flag but the midfielder’s flicked header went over the bar.
Jay Rich Baghuelou replaced Pritchard for the hosts on 88 minutes and the teams were given a minimum of five additional minutes to find a winning goal.
A header from Rose was brilliantly tipped away for a corner by Vitek, then the home side had a final opportunity with a free kick on their right but the ball from it was cleared by Maher.
That meant the game ended without a goal and Town returned to North East Lincolnshire with a point to show for their efforts after a good away performance.

The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when they welcome league-leaders Stockport County to Blundell Park.



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