REPORT | Town held by Sutton at BP

Grimsby Town stretched their unbeaten run to five games but were held to a draw by Sutton United at Blundell Park.

The Mariners took the lead through Rekeil Pyke on 19 minutes but their visitors came into the game as the first half went on and Harry Smith’s equaliser deep into added time meant the scores were level at the break.

Sutton looked to have carried their momentum over after the restart and a great save by Town keeper Harvey Cartwright stopped Smith from getting a second goal.

The hosts also had chances to claim all three points in an end-to-end contest but in the end, neither side was able to make a breakthrough.

Three changes were made to the Grimsby XI following the draw at Forest Green Rovers last time out, with Luke Waterfall, Kamil Conteh and Donovan Wilson coming in for Harvey Rodgers, Kieran Green and Danny Rose.

Cartwright started in goal, with Toby Mullarkey, Waterfall, Niall Maher and Anthony Glennon forming the defence.  Gavan Holohan, Conteh and Jamie Andrews were the midfielders and Arthur Gnahoua, Wilson and Pyke lined up in attack.

Rodgers and Green were both named on the bench, alongside Jake Eastwood, Abo Eisa, Otis Khan, Harry Clifton and Alex Hunt.

Sutton started the day bottom of Sky Bet League Two, three places and six points behind their hosts, although they knew a victory could lift them out of the relegation zone if results elsewhere went their way.

After a quiet opening to the game, Wilson started a Town attack with a great ball down the left and the move eventually led to Mullarkey crossing from the right but the danger was dealt with.

Sutton won the first corner on eight minutes and the Mariners initially struggled to clear the ball from the flag after it was headed on by striker Smith, with Mullarkey eventually getting it away for a throw-in.

A second away corner followed soon afterwards but this time, it was headed clear and Town’s counter-attack led to Gnahoua cutting inside from the right and hitting a low shot which goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis got down to stop.

Gnahoua was involved again on 10 minutes when he linked up with Mullarkey on the right.  The right-back’s low cross found Wilson but his shot was straight at Bouzanis.

A stoppage followed when Bouzanis went down with an injury and after initially trying to play on, he was soon unable to continue and substitute goalkeeper Steve Arnold was sent on in his place in the first change of the afternoon on 15 minutes.

A foul on Gnahoua gave the Mariners a free kick on the right but Glennon’s delivery into the penalty area was headed clear.

The next time the home side went forward though, the deadlock was broken as a great cross from Mullarkey on the right fell for PYKE at the far post and he fired past Arnold at the second attempt.

A long throw from Ryan Jackson was headed on by Smith and then caught by Cartwright as Sutton looked to respond to falling behind, before Smith was pulled down by Waterfall on the halfway line to give the away side another attacking opportunity.  Christian N’Guessan’s free kick was headed clear.

Another Sutton free kick followed soon afterwards, for a foul by Andrews on the away right.  The ball from it was headed away by Waterfall but a return delivery into the box by Aiden O’Brien produced a corner, which resulted in Josh Coley sending a shot harmlessly wide from 20 yards.

The visitors were enjoying a promising spell as the half-hour mark passed and a cross from Jackson on their right had to be dealt with by Mullarkey.

Gnahoua won a corner at the other end and Town kept possession after Glennon’s near-post delivery was met by Maher, although the hosts were unable to cause a problem for Arnold in the Sutton goal.

A speculative effort from O’Brien dropped just over the bar, then a cross-shot from Ben Goodliffe was blocked as the away side attacked again from a free kick given for offside against Gnahoua.

Coley won a corner on 41 minutes as Sutton continued to build momentum, although Smith and Omar Sowunmi appeared to get in each other’s way as they both jumped for the same ball when it was recycled back into the box and the chance was gone.

Town were aiming to double their advantage ahead of the break and they had a good chance to do so just before the half moved into added time.  Wilson linked up with Gnahoua on the right and the winger’s cross was sent back across goal at the far post by Andrews, although Wilson’s strike did not have enough power to beat Andrews.

The Mariners looked to be ending the half strongly after Sutton’s encouraging spells but in the final minute of additional time, the visitors grabbed their equaliser.  SMITH found himself with an opening on the edge of the box and he drilled an excellent, low strike past Cartwright to leave the score level at 1-1 at the interval.


No further changes were made before the restart and an early run from Coley took him to the edge of the Grimsby penalty area, then a low cross was intercepted by Maher before it could reach Smith as the visitors started on the attack.

A Holohan cross from the right was headed away as Town went forward for the first time in the second half, then a shot from Pyke was blocked for a corner after a strong run by Mullarkey.  Glennon’s near-post delivery was headed clear by defender Louis John.

Sowunmi mis-hit a shot after a long throw from Jackson caused problems inside the home penalty area, before Pyke looked to have created an opening on the right at the other end but was unable to find a team-mate.

Clifton replaced Andrews in Town’s first substitution just after the hour and Holohan won a corner on the right soon afterwards, although it did not lead to a goalscoring opportunity.

A good challenge by Waterfall stopped Coley at one end and Gnahoua then won a corner at the other as both sides pushed forward.  Glennon’s flag-kick was headed up into the air and as Sutton struggled to clear their lines, a strike by Gnahoua was blocked.

Lee Angol replaced O’Brien in the Sutton attack and they had a good chance to take the lead soon afterwards but it was not taken as Coley’s shot missed the target.

Cartwright produced a brilliant save to deny Smith from a powerful header, then a sliding block by Sowunmi took a strike from Clifton away for a corner.

Khan came on in place of Holohan with 72 minutes on the clock and two minutes later, Town interim co-head coach Shaun Pearson was shown the yellow card after a Sutton free kick was awarded near the halfway line.

Another long throw from Jackson was dealt with after Smith had headed the ball on, then Pyke was kept out from close range at the end of a move which also involved Khan and Gnahoua.

Former Town midfielder Craig Clay replaced Goodliffe for Sutton with 10 minutes to go, then John was first to a Glennon corner from the right to head away from danger.

Another Town corner came on 88 minutes but it was headed away by N’Guessan and the offside flag went up when the ball was sent back into the box.

The tempo of the game seemed to have dropped since the 80-minute mark, although the Mariners were the team pushing forward as the game moved into a minimum of three added minutes, with Sutton seemingly settling for a draw.

An away free kick from N’Guessan on halfway went straight through to Cartwright and he immediately launched an attack in the opposite direction, which led to a corner on the right.  Glennon’s delivery was caught by keeper Arnold and that turned out to be the last action of the game as both sides earned a point.

Town’s next assignment comes on Tuesday evening, when they make the journey to Milton Keynes Dons.



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