Town beaten on penalties in the County Cup at Spalding

Grimsby Town were knocked out of the Lincolnshire Senior Cup on penalties after a 3-3 draw with Spalding United at the Sir Halley Stewart ground.

A strong Mariners team made the journey to the south of the county for this quarter-final tie, with head coach David Artell taking advantage of an opportunity to see more of his first-team squad members in action.

Tyler Winters put the hosts ahead but a Michee Efete brace either side of half-time turned the scoreline around in Town’s favour.

Winters completed his own double to restore parity and substitute Riley O’Sullivan gave Spalding the advantage back from the penalty spot, only for Harvey Tomlinson to grab a last-minute equaliser.

That meant a shootout was required to decide the outcome and it was won by the home side after Jamie Andrews, making his return from injury as a substitute, saw his penalty saved as Spalding converted all five of theirs.

Jake Eastwood started in goal for Town, with Efete, Finley Abraham, Luke Waterfall and Danny Amos forming the defence.  Callum Ainley, Kieran Green and Evan Khouri were the midfielders, with Aaron Braithwaite and Otis Khan supporting striker Cameron Gardner.

The Grimsby substitutes were goalkeeper Seb Auton, Billy Bradley, Harvey Cribb, Charlie Clements, Andrews, Edwin Essel and Tomlinson.

Spalding have been enjoying a successful season so far, with Elliot Sandy’s Tulips currently second in the Northern Premier League’s Midlands division, just a point behind leaders Harborough Town.

Braithwaite was the first to test home keeper Tony Breeden with a strike from inside the box after a cross from Khouri on the left, although the stopper was equal to it as he dived to push the ball away from danger.

Khouri was caught offside after a neat build-up as the Mariners dominated possession in the early stages, before Khan did well to chase down a ball from Efete on the right but was unable to pick out a team-mate with his cross.

Efete stayed down after a challenge inside the Spalding penalty area on 19 minutes but was passed fit to continue after receiving treatment, then Khouri fired wide from 20 yards as Town continued to attack.

James Clifton missed the target with a speculative effort from distance for Spalding, before a free kick from James Snedden on the left was headed behind for a corner as the home side threatened for the first time.  The flag-kick was brought clear by Khan.

The hosts went on to take the lead two minutes before the half-hour when a low cross from the right was not fully dealt with and after an initial shot was blocked, WINTERS was in the right place to beat Eastwood from close range.

Town had an opportunity to respond almost immediately but Khouri’s shot was blocked and the ball was scrambled clear before Gardner could get to the rebound.

Khouri did well to win a corner on the left on 37 minutes and after the ball was initially played short from the flag, it eventually led to the equaliser when Ainley’s cross was touched back across goal by Gardner for EFETE to tap into the net.

An Ainley cross was cleared before Khan could get the ball under control, before a foul by Braithwaite gave Spalding a chance to get the ball into the box with a free kick from the left.  Snedden’s delivery was headed wide by Stacey Freeman.

Two added minutes were played at the end of the first half and with no further chances coming, the teams went in level at the break.




No changes were made before the restart and Snedden sent an early free kick over Eastwood’s bar from 25 yards.

Snedden was shown the first yellow card of the evening after a foul on Khouri and soon afterwards, the turnaround was complete as the Mariners took the lead on 52 minutes.  After a neat build-up down the left, a low pull-back from Khouri picked out EFETE and he steered a shot beyond Breeden into the far corner of the net.

The lead was to last just three minutes, however.  The hosts won a corner when a shot from Winters was deflected wide and when the delivery from the flag was not fully dealt with by the Town defence, the ball was played back into the six-yard box by Freeman and WINTERS turned it into the net from close range to make it 2-2.

Nathan Stainfield and Callum Westwood replaced Sandy and Danny Draper in a double-substitution for Spalding on 58 minutes.

Khouri needed treatment after a strong challenge from Stainfield but was passed fit to play on, then Bradley and Andrews replaced Abraham and Green in a double-change for Town with 63 minutes on the clock.

Efete was booked soon afterwards for a foul but the resulting free kick from the home left was well-claimed by Eastwood.

Lewis Hilliard came on for Snedden in the blue of Spalding on 70 minutes and Riley O’Sullivan followed him onto the pitch when he replaced Clifton three minutes later.

Ainley almost had an opportunity when he ran onto a through-ball from Andrews but the midfielder slipped at the vital moment and the chance was gone.

Cribb and Clements replaced Gardner and Braithwaite on 76 minutes and moments later, the hosts were awarded a penalty when O’Sullivan was brought down inside the box.  O’SULLIVAN stepped up to send Eastwood the wrong way from the spot and put Spalding back into the lead.

Essel came on in place of Ainley as Town looked to get themselves back into the contest once again and Clements created an opportunity for himself soon afterwards but fired wide after cutting inside from the left.

Dan Sweeney replaced Winters for the hosts, before a dangerous-looking cross from Khan was headed out for a corner.  Tomlinson replaced Khouri before it was taken but the ball from the flag did not lead to a chance in front of goal.

A cross-shot from Khan was tipped away for a corner by Breeden and it turned into another one on the opposite, right flank.  This time, it was played short and Amos whipped a shot from the edge of the box which the keeper had to tip over his bar for another corner, as the clock ticked into the final minute.

Town kept the pressure up from their third corner in quick succession and it finally led to a reward when the ball was played across the six-yard line for TOMLINSON to finish emphatically and level the scores at 3-3.

The teams were given a minimum of five additional minutes for one to find a winner and avoid the need for a penalty shootout.

Khan had an opportunity to do just that but could only hit keeper Breeden with his shot from the edge of the box, then Efete went down under a challenge inside the penalty area but the referee waved play on.

An Amos free kick from the right was headed behind for a corner but after it was played short, Tomlinson missed the target from 25 yards.

Jordan Graham came on for Kyle Barker for the hosts with the game heading towards penalties and with no further chances coming before the full-time whistle, spot-kicks were required to separate the sides.

Tomlinson and Amos both scored with Town’s first two kicks, with Graham and Sam Warburton finding the net for the hosts.  But Andrews was kept out by a good save from Breeden in Town’s third penalty and although Khan was on-target with the fourth, Westwood, O’Sullivan and Hilliard all scored to send Spalding through.

The Mariners now return to Sky Bet League Two action when they host Harrogate Town at Blundell Park on Saturday.



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