REPORT | Stoppage-time penalty denies Town

A stoppage-time penalty denied Grimsby Town a priceless three points from their Easter Monday clash with Bradford City at Blundell Park.

The Mariners dominated throughout the contest and Curtis Thompson’s goal 10 minutes into the second half looked like it would be enough to secure a vital victory.

But there was to be a late twist when Denver Hume was sent off for bringing Brad Halliday down inside the penalty area and Richie Smallwood stepped up to grab a point for Bradford from the spot.

Four changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI after the defeat at Barrow on Good Friday, with Liam Smith, Gavan Holohan, Jamie Andrews and Danny Rose all coming into the team as Harry Clifton, Harry Wood, Kieran Green and Arthur Gnahoua made way.

Harvey Cartwright continued in goal, with Toby Mullarkey, Doug Tharme and Harvey Rodgers forming a centre-back trio as Smith and Hume operated as wing-backs.  Holohan, Thompson and Andrews were the central midfielders, with Rose wearing the captain’s armband as he lined up alongside Justin Obikwu in attack.

There was a return to the bench for Callum Ainley after his recovery following treatment for thyroid cancer.  He was joined on the substitutes list by Jake Eastwood, Abo Eisa, Charles Vernam, Wood, Donovan Wilson and Evan Khouri.

Bradford made the journey from West Yorkshire looking to make it back-to-back wins over the Easter period following a 2-0 home success against Tranmere Rovers on Friday which brought a four-game losing streak to an end.

Manager Graham Alexander made one change to his team, with Jonathan Tomkinson replacing Jamie Walker.

An early Hume free kick from near the halfway line went through to Bradford goalkeeper Sam Walker, before Cartwright’s first task was a simple one as he collected a ball into the penalty area from Smallwood.

Good defending by Matthew Platt stopped Obikwu from getting on the end of a flicked header by Rose on the home left, then a free kick was worked to Holohan on the right and his cross was cleared for a throw-in.

A claim for a foul on Holohan on the edge of the box was waved away by the referee and the midfielder was involved again soon afterwards when his low shot from 20 yards was blocked.

The Mariners had looked the more threatening of the two sides in the early stages but they were forced into the first substitution on 15 minutes after Cartwright went down with an injury.  He was replaced in goal by Eastwood.

Daniel Oyegoke sent a low shot wide from 20 yards in what was the visitors’ first attempt at goal, before a Hume free kick from halfway led to a throw-in on the left.  Tharme’s long throw was headed away as far as Holohan and his shot was blocked.

Another Tharme long throw was cleared after a handball shout against Oyegoke was waved away by the referee, before a foul on Rose gave Town a further opportunity to attack from a free kick on the right, although they were unable to make it count.

Neither side had been able to establish a grip on the game as the half-hour mark passed but the visitors had a good chance soon afterwards as a Calum Kavanagh cross picked out Tyler Smith, although his header from 12 yards was stopped by Eastwood.

A Town corner from the left was cleared, before a foul on Rose gave the hosts a free kick midway inside the Bradford half.  Hume’s delivery into the box was headed out for a throw-in.

Hume was shown the first yellow card on 37 minutes after bringing Smith down to stop an away counter-attack 30 yards from goal.  Smallwood fired over the bar after the free kick was touched back to him.

Another Grimsby free kick followed in a promising position after a foul on Andrews but again, they were not able to turn it into a chance in front of goal.

A push on Obikwu brought yet another free kick inside the Bradford half and this time, it led to a blocked shot from Holohan after Hume’s delivery broke for him.

Mullarkey saw a volley blocked and cleared after a Tharme long throw was not fully dealt with as the Town pressure continued, then a Hume cross was headed away and Rose was blocked by Platt.

Town had the momentum as half-time loomed and another free kick from Hume on the right led to Tharme heading over the bar.

Four added minutes were played at the end of the first half and a strike from Kavanagh was blocked by Holohan after a run by Halliday.

That proved to be the last opportunity for either side of a goalless first half which had been low on quality from both teams but one in which the Mariners had dominated for long periods.


No further changes were made before the restart and an early Bradford penalty appeal was turned down after Bobby Pointon went down.

Platt was in place to clear after Mullarkey had linked up with Obikwu on the Town right, before a foul on Ciaran Kelly gave the visitors a free kick inside the Grimsby half.  Smallwood’s delivery into the box was comfortably dealt with.

Pointon sent a curling strike over the bar on 50 minutes, before Oyegoke was booked for bringing Obikwu down on the home left.  Hume’s free kick was headed behind for a corner and this time, the Mariners made it count as Hume’s ball from the flag broke for THOMPSON to blast a powerful strike past Walker from 20 yards, with the aid of a deflection.

A Hume free kick from the left beat everybody as Town continued to dominate, then Obikwu missed the target from the edge of the box after Holohan won the ball in midfield and launched a break.

Clarke Oduor replaced Pointon and Jamie Walker came on for Tomkinson as the away side made a double-substitution on 64 minutes in a bid to get themselves back into the game.

Platt was booked for bringing Holohan down as the midfielder made progress on the left, although Kelly was first the the resulting free kick to head away from goal.

Kelly lifted a shot over the bar after a quickly-taken away corner was not fully dealt with, before Wilson replaced Obikwu in the Town attack.

Bradford’s Smith was off-target at the near post after running onto a ball into the box, then Tyreik Wright and Harry Chapman were sent on for the visitors on 75 minutes as Smith and Lewis Richards made way.

A Hume free kick was touched behind for a corner at the far post and it quickly turned into another one on the opposite, right flank.  Hume’s delivery from the flag was eventually cleared but possession was soon back with the hosts after Wright was booked for a foul on Andrews on the halfway line.

Eastwood caught a Kavanagh cross from the right, before Kelly became the latest to see the yellow card for a trip on Holohan. Hume’s free kick was half-cleared and a follow-up shot from Wilson was blocked.

Andrews was booked for a push on Wright on 86 minutes and from the resulting free kick, the ball was played to Walker inside the box but his low shot was saved by Eastwood and cleared for a corner.

Holohan won a Town corner as the game moved from end to end at pace, before another Bradford attack was stopped, with the visitors coming forward in search of a point.

The fourth official signalled for five added minutes and there was drama to come when Halliday was dragged down by Hume as he aimed to get on the end of a cross from the away left.  The referee pointed to the penalty spot and the defender was shown a straight red card.  Andrews was replaced by Khouri before the spot-kick was taken, then SMALLWOOD stepped up to beat Eastwood from 12 yards.

Bradford pushed forward with the aim of completing an unlikely turnaround and a foul by Mullarkey on Walker gave them a free kick on the left edge of the Town box.  But Smallwood’s delivery was confidently claimed by Eastwood and it proved to be the last action of the game as it ended all-square.

Town are next in action on Saturday, when Newport County will be the visitors to Blundell Park.



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