Grimsby Town were denied their first victory over Bradford City since 1998 by Alex Gilliead’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Valley Parade.
Paul Hurst’s men led at half-time thanks to a Danny Rose header late in the first period having controlled the possession and overall tempo of the game up to that point. The Bantams responded in the second half with tactical changes from Mark Hughes making a difference in the end to grab a point.
Grimsby started the game confidently and had plenty of early possession in the opening couple of minutes, which produced an opening or two going forward. A nice one-two between Gavan Holohan and Toby Mullarkey allowed the former to move inwards from the right channel and find Arthur Gnahoua, who cut in on his stronger left foot and shot from outside the area, testing Harry Lewis early on down to his left.
Town were comfortable in the first 20 minutes without creating many opportunities, but they were almost caught out with a simple diagonal over the top from Bradford. With Mullarkey high up the pitch and out of position, Lewis Richards was free to run onto the ball as it bounced into the box, but Jake Eastwood was alive to the danger and was first to the loose ball on the edge of his own area.
Bradford could counter Town when they committed men forward in possession, and that is how they carved out their first effort on goal as Jamie Walker broke down the right flank, cutting inside as he reached the box but firing over.
The Mariners continued to be patient in possession, waiting for the right time to pounce while the home side allowed them to hold the ball at the back and Rose, who had not been much involved in the first half, ended up making a vital contribution.
Rose had tested Lewis moments before he found the back of the net with a cut-back which almost reached Eisa in the middle, but Lewis could not save his header from close range for the opener.
Danny Amos found Gnahoua with a crossfield pass, with the latter bringing the ball down excellently just inside the Bradford area, pushing the ball back out to Mullarkey’s path for a first-time cross to Rose, who was unmarked in the middle, to head in.
Hurst would have been pleased with his side’s first-half display as the visiting team, not allowing Bradford to get on top of proceedings early and controlling the general flow of play.
Bantams boss Mark Hughes must have said something to reinvigorate his team, as they came out with more energy after the break, getting their foot on the ball and testing the Town defence with balls into the box.
Much like the first period, goal-scoring opportunities were not free-flowing with Town settling into a more defensive shape in response to Bradford’s approach in chasing the game after the break.
Town were waiting for chances to counter, but could not really get on the ball in dangerous positions to do so, with the hosts being a lot more aggressive with their pressing. Grimsby still had the outlet of Rose up top who they could play forward to with aerial passes looking for knockdowns and that is how they created a chance for Gnahoua to shoot on goal.
Clifton picked up the loose ball as Rose headed forward and played it to Gnahoua who had the space to shoot just outside the area, forcing a save from Lewis who had not had much to do in the second half up to that point.
Town had to dig in defensively in the scorching heat to protect their slender lead, and they were doing well up until the final minute of normal time, with Brad Halliday allowed to walk into the box with the ball and cut it across to Alex Gilliead, who created the space for himself to fire past Eastwood.
Hurst’s men pushed for a way back in front in added time but it was not to be, as Bradford snatched a point, taking two away from Grimsby, which would have taken up to second in League Two at the time of the game.
Original story at https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/sport/