Grimsby Town will be in the draw for the Fifth Round of the Emirates FA Cup after a brave performance saw them earn a replay against Skybet Championship side Luton Town.
The Mariners, who were forced into a number of changes, were heavy underdogs going into the tie at Kenilworth Road but after defending in numbers to withstand wave after wave of home pressure, they found themselves ahead at half-time through Gavan Holohan’s header two minutes before the break.
Luton responded with an Elijah Adebayo equaliser from the penalty spot four minutes into the second half after Bryn Morris tripped Gabe Osho, then the turnaround was completed when Jordan Clark put them ahead.
But Town were behind for less than a minute as Harry Clifton levelled the scores in front of the 1,473 travelling fans, then the away side showed great character to ensure they would get another chance to reach the next round with a home replay.
A total of five changes were made to the Grimsby XI that began the defeat at Swindon Town last time out, with a mixture of injuries, suspension and ineligible players forcing boss Paul Hurst into alterations.
Luke Waterfall made his return from injury, while Anthony Glennon, Morris, Alex Hunt and Danilo Orsi also came into the team as Danny Amos, Kieran Green, Mikey O’Neill, Otis Khan and John McAtee missed out.
Max Crocombe started in goal, with Waterfall, Niall Maher and Andy Smith forming a centre-back trio as Michee Efete and Glennon operated as wing-backs. Morris, Holohan, Clifton and Hunt were the midfielders, with Orsi leading the attack.
Green was named on the bench, alongside Shaun Pearson, Ollie Battersby, Evan Khouri, Edwin Essel and Sean Scannell.
Luton manager Rob Edwards signalled his intentions of going further in the competition by making just two changes following the Hatters’ 2-0 league victory at Wigan Athletic last week. Harry Cornick and Adebayo were the goalscorers that day and would be aiming to hit the net again.
Town began brightly, with two Maher long throws giving them early opportunities to get the ball into the Luton penalty area.
Adebayo then had the first shot of the afternoon for the hosts but his drive from the edge of the box was blocked for a throw-in.
A free kick from the home right was cleared by Morris, then a cross from Amari’i Bell on the left was comfortably claimed by Crocombe.
Cornick won the afternoon’s first corner on 11 minutes but the ball from the flag was cleared by Holohan.
Luton had the ball in the net soon afterwards when a cross from the left was headed past Crocombe by Tom Lockyer but the offside flag came to Town’s rescue and the goal was ruled out.
An opportunity came at the other end on 15 minutes when Glennon sent a free kick into the box from the left. Waterfall met it at the far post but his header went through to home keeper Ethan Horvath.
Alfie Doughty showed good pace to get down the right and cut inside before winning a corner, although his delivery from the flag caused no problems as it was caught by Crocombe.
Adebayo then fired over the bar from 18 yards, before a Town attack ended with the offside flag going up after Efete had crossed from the right.
The Luton pressure was building and Adebayo won another corner on 25 minutes when he hooked a Bell cross back across goal. Town defended it well though and the ball was brought clear.
Another home attack ended when Adebayo was brilliantly stopped inside the box by Efete, before Maher was first to a cross from the left as Town continued to keep their hosts at bay.
Waterfall headed clear from a left-wing corner, before Holohan got his head to a flag-kick from the right and Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu volleyed the loose ball high over the bar from 25 yards.
A cross from Glennon was headed away at the other end, before Orsi went down inside the box but the appeals for a penalty from the Town fans at the opposite end were waved away.
Morris forced Horvath into action on 32 minutes with a low drive from 25 yards which the keeper dived to stop, before a home attack came to an end when Cornick was caught offside as he chested the ball down for Adebayo.
A cross from Doughty was put behind by Morris for a corner and the pressure continued when it was headed away for another one but this time, Holohan volleyed clear. A third corner in quick succession was also dealt with but Luton kept possession until Cornick sent a shot harmlessly over the bar.
Holohan battled well in midfield to win the ball and keep possession as the Mariners earned some respite, before the next Luton attack saw Crocombe claim a cross from Clark.
Soon afterwards, the ball sat up perfectly for Holohan to try a volley from distance and he hit a brilliant, dipping effort which looked destined for the top corner until Horvath dived full-length to get fingertips to it and push it away for a corner.
Incredibly, from the flag, the deadlock was broken as Glennon’s ball was met at the far post by HOLOHAN and he steered a header back across goal and into the net, beating the dive of the keeper to put Town ahead with two minutes to go before the break.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the half and the home side set about their task of restoring parity but Town held on to ensure they got to the interval with their lead intact.
The visitors had been forced to soak up plenty of pressure but they had defended well in numbers and got their reward with Holohan’s goal.
No changes were made before the restart and Luton were `given an early chance to draw level when they were awarded a penalty three minutes in. A trip by Morris on Osho inside the box was punished by the referee and ADEBAYO stepped up to send Crocombe the wrong way and make it 1-1 from the spot.
The home side were straight back on the attack after equalising and they won a corner on the right, although the delivery from it caused no problems.
A foul on Clifton gave the Mariners an opportunity to respond with a free kick in a central position, 25 yards from goal. Hunt took it but could only lift his shot over the bar.
Adebayo’s pace and strength took him into the box from the left on 57 minutes, although he was unable to pick out a team-mate and the scores remained level.
Clark then drove into the penalty area from the opposite flank and sent over a low cross was put behind for a corner, which went out for a goal kick.
Cauley Woodrow and Carlton Morris came on for Allen Campbell and Cornick as the home side made a double-substitution on the hour.
Orsi was then booked for showing his frustration after a foul as he chased the ball near the corner flag.
Luton did not have much longer to wait before taking the lead when a cross from the right fell for CLARK and despite Crocombe getting a hand to his half-volley, he was unable to keep it out.
But the Mariners were behind for less than a minute as they produced an instant response when CLIFTON ran onto a ball into the box and calmly slotted past the onrushing Horvath to make it 2-2.
Clifton did well to hold the ball in midfield and draw a foul on 70 minutes but Town were unable to create a chance from the resulting free kick.
Maher was shown the yellow card for a foul midway inside the Grimsby half, although Clark’s free kick was headed clear by Morris.
Fred Onyedinma replaced Dan Potts in the home side’s third change on 75 minutes, during a stoppage where both Efete and Crocombe needed treatment.
Holohan sent a chip through to keeper Horvath after working an opening from 25 yards, before Luke Berry replaced Ruddock-Mpanzu in Luton’s latest substitution.
Town created an opportunity through Orsi with six minutes to go but when he played the ball across goal, Clifton could not get enough on it to force it past Horvath.
A foul on Holohan then gave the away side a free kick in a promising position on the right but Glennon’s delivery into the box was cleared.
Holohan was booked for time-wasting over the taking of a throw-in but as the clock ticked down, it was the Mariners who were looking the stronger.
The fourth official signalled seven added minutes to be played at the end of the game and a Luton corner was eventually dealt with as Crocombe came out for the ball and was fouled.
The Town keeper was booked for time-wasting over the taking of a goal kick as the visitors looked to see the remainder of the game out and earn a second chance to progress to the fifth round.
Berry volleyed at Crocombe from a narrow angle as the hosts looked for a winning goal, before a cross from Onyedinma was also caught by the keeper.
Glennon was replaced by Khouri and Green came on for Holohan with two minutes of the added time remaining.
Town were given a final opportunity to force a winner with a free kick on the right but Hunt’s ball was cleared and Luton broke through Morris, although Clifton got back to put in a superb challenge and get the ball away for a throw-in.
That proved to be the last chance for either side to win the game and as a result, they will now meet again at Blundell Park to decide who goes through to round five.
Before that, the Mariners will be back in League Two action when they travel to Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.