Grimsby Town battled back from two goals down against Manchester City U21s, with the aid of a first-half red card, to earn a draw in their Papa John’s Trophy opener.
Harry Clifton and Rekeil Pyke scored the goals in the second half to send the game to a penalty shootout for an extra point, which the visitors won 4-2 with Anthony Glennon and Arthur Gnahoua having their spot kicks saved. The game presented the opportunity for Paul Hurst to give his new arrival, West Bromwich Albion loanee Jamie Andrews, his first run out for Town from the start with Grimsby trialling a different shape.
Other fringe members of the squad were given the chance to impress, including goalkeeper Harvey Cartwright who has had to be patient in waiting for his next opportunity after his debut in the Carabao Cup. It was Andrews who had the first chance for the Mariners, as Evan Khouri was slid in down the left side of the box and cut the ball back to the former in the centre of the area, but his goalbound effort was blocked.
Town were the aggressors in the first ten minutes, but the visitors went ahead after two poor passes allowed Will Dickson to run through on goal, knocking the ball around the stranded Cartwright and into an empty net. Alex Hunt’s pass across the pitch was overhit and inaccurate, with Michee Efete picking up the loose ball but underhitting his pass back to the goalkeeper with Jackson sneaking in.
There was not much in the way of chances on either side before City doubled their lead almost out of nowhere with Joel Ndala given space to cut in on his right and shoot from just outside of the area.
Cartwright might have been disappointed to have been beaten at his near post, but he also could have had a bone to pick with his defenders for not closing down the player quickly enough or stopping the chance at the source.
The Mariners were two goals down but offered a lifeline in the 35th minute when Rekeil Pyke was chopped down by Jahmai Simpson-Pusey as he ran onto Khouri’s through ball, with the referee deeming the challenge worthy of a red card.
They were not really able to capitalise on the man advantage for the rest of the first half however, the best chance came when Gnahoua took down Efete’s cross from the right and lashed the ball over the bar from just inside the box.
With the visitors a man down, they dropped into a defensive shape for most of the second half, with Town forced to try and break down their low block, which they found difficult for the most part.
Grimsby were toiling for a goal to get themselves back in the game but almost gave away another at the other end. They were slow to a loose ball in their own box, and Tomas Galvez snuck in and would have scored if not for a good close-range stop from Cartwright.
Town had to be quick and precise with their passing in the final third to create space for shots and a good move produced a chance for Gnahoua, who curled a shot just wide of the left post.
The commitment was there from the young opposition to defend their goal, putting their bodies in the way of crosses and shots and the frustration grew for Town as more time passed without a goal.
They did finally manage to make a breakthrough in the 77th minute, with Gnahoua’s shot helped on the way by Clifton as the goalkeeper scrambled to keep the ball out but failed. With plenty of time left to change the result, Town pushed for the equaliser with Khouri almost capping off a rare start with a goal as he volleyed the ball off the bar from just inside the box.
As the game moved into added time, you could see tiredness and disorganisation seep into the young City team as Town came forward with wave after wave of attacks. The best opportunity to equalise presented itself to Pyke in the six-yard area as Mullakey’s early cross landed in the centre of the box and was not cleared and he gratefully took that chance to ensure the game ended level.
Starting line-up: Cartwright; Efete, Mullarkey, Maher, Glennon; Hunt, Khouri; Gnahoua, Andrews (Amos 67’), Vernam (Clifton 45’); Pyke
Unused subs: Eastwood, Rodgers, Waterfall, Bramwell, Conteh
Original story at https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/sport/