Grimsby Town 0 Cheltenham Town 0
DATE: Saturday 16th January 2010 | COMPETITION: Coca-Cola League Two | VENUE: Blundell Park | ATT: 3,334
Neil Woods’ Grimsby Town side were left scratching their heads after dominating this tussle with fellow strugglers Cheltenham but still failing to secure that elusive win, which would have closed the gap on the Gloucestershire outfit.
The Mariners peppered the visitors’ goal but found goalkeeper Scott Brown in inspired form and had to settle for another draw.
Town started brightly but it was the Robins who forged the first opening on nine minutes.
Top scorer Justin Richards found space on the right-hand side of the penalty area but dragged his effort marginally wide of Nick Colgan’s far post.
The home side then got into their stride with their first effort on goal on 19 minutes. Peter Bore surged forward and, although his run was halted, the ball fell kindly for Michael Leary, who fired a curling effort narrowly over the angle from 20 yards.
Just two minutes later the Mariners came even closer to opening the scoring. Michael Coulson cut in from the left and his stinging right-foot effort was expertly tipped away by Brown in the visiting goal.
From the resulting corner Linwood headed down but the ball was cleared off the line by Richards. Nicky Featherstone then tried his luck from the opposite wing but Brown gathered safely to his midriff.
At the other end the Robins were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position after a foul by Linwood on Joss Labadie.
The former Chester man was booked for the challenge and that meant he would sit out the away game at Rotherham – it was the first questionable refereeing decision of the afternoon from Lancastrian official Mr Tierney.
Worse was to follow on the stroke of half time. Richards went down under a challenge from Leary and the referee pointed to the spot.
The decision looked harsh on the ex-Barnet man and the Blundell Park faithful prepared themselves to go into the interval a goal behind.
Richards himself stepped up to take the penalty but, after a stuttering run-up, he hilariously crashed his effort against the crossbar.
The hosts upped the tempo after the break and came close to going in front when a deflected effort from Peter Sweeney drifted just the wrong side of the post.
Woods’ side were given an added boost on 56 minutes when on-loan Blackpool man Ashley Eastham was dismissed for the Robins when he picked up a second booking for a crude challenge on Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro out on the right touchline.
Town pressed home their man advantage and penned the Robins back in their own third.
Akpa Akpro was next to work an opening, bursting through on the right and seeing his low effort saved by the feet of Brown.
Bore then won a free kick on the edge of the Robins’ penalty area and from the set piece the Mariners thought they had taken the lead.
Sweeney floated the kick across and Akpa Akpro headed back across goal. The ball clipped the crossbar and was bundled in by Adam Proudlock but the linesman on the Main Stand side had flagged early in proceedings for offside against Akpa Akpro.
Town were undeterred though and Proudlock was thwarted again just moments later when his close-range volley was somehow smothered by Brown.
Ex-Leeds man Sweeney then drifted a trademark free kick just wide of the upright before Featherstone stung the palms of Brown with a smart drive from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Woods made his three changes but there was still no way through for the hosts as the game entered a frantic final few minutes with the Mariners pressing for a sure-fire winner.
A free kick was awarded on the left-hand side of the area, which Coulson took and saw deflected for a corner.
From that set piece a scramble ensued and both debutant Wes Fletcher and Bore had efforts blocked and the ball eventually spun away for a goal kick.
It was the last chance of a game that the Mariners had dominated for long periods, the point still leaving them six points adrift of safety in League Two.
TOWN: Colgan; Bore, Linwood, Atkinson, McCrory; Featherstone (Jarman), Leary, Sweeney, Coulson; Akpa Akpro (Fletcher), Proudlock (North). Subs not used: Heywood, Overton, Widdowson, Hudson.
CHELTENHAM: Brown; Gallinagh, Townsend, Andrew, Eastham; Pipe, Low, Labadie, Hutton (Pook), Richards, Alsop. Subs not used: Bird, Hayles, Richardson, Haynes, Lewis, Hammond.