After the sides had fought out a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes with Will Dickson’s first half strike cancelling out Keke Simmonds’ opener, the game went to the drama of spot kicks to decide who would go through to the knockout stages.
City made the trip to Cleethorpes in the knowledge that a victory would see us go through into the knockout stages with the game serving an effective winners-take-all clash.
Brian Barry-Murphy’s side were also buoyed by the confidence boost of last Saturday’s superb 6-1 PL2 win away at Manchester United.
However, just as at Leigh Sports Village at the weekend, it was the opposition who made the flying start – and a familiar face who put Grimsby ahead.
Former City youngster Keke Simmonds, who spent more than a decade at the Club, seized on a loose ball before racing forward and despatching a 25-yard shot that keeper Mikki van Sas could do nothing about.
With a strong cross wind buffeting the ground, our trademark close control wasn’t always easy to execute but City bided our time and struck back in superb fashion to draw level on 17 minutes.
As so often, Carlos Borges was the architect, the Portuguese winger racing onto Bobb’s inviting pass and from his initial shot, Dickson then applied the close range finish at the far post to restore parity.
Borges then tried his luck from just outside the box with a shot that whistled over the bar as Barry-Murphy’s side warmed to the task.
But with the Mariners proving tough, obdurate opponents chances were at a premium in an evenly contested opening half, though van Sas did well to parry away Otis Khan’s fierce low 45th minute shot from 12 yards.
City sought to up the ante after the break with Dire Mebude fizzing in a low drive which was gathered by Mariners keeper Max Crocombe.
We then had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Borges was put clear on the left flank by another sumptuous Bobb pass and fired in to the unmarked Mebude.
However, the ball was just too strong and the chance went begging.
City kept knocking on the door with Borges denied by a reflex Crocombe block which almost rebounded in only for Grimsby skipper Kieran Green to head the deflection off the line.
At the other end, Simmonds had a gilt-edged opening to double his tally on 70 minutes but miscued his shot from 10 yards with City, for once, outnumbered.
With time running out City were then indebted to Jadel Katongo for clearing a Lewis Richardson shot off the line before Grimsby’s Andy Smith almost bundled the ball home from close range.
Barry-Murphy’s young charges almost won it in the 88th minute – another Borges burst caused panic in the home ranks before he fed the waiting Kian Breckin but the midfielder’s shot was parried away by Crocombe.
It meant the tie went to the drama of a penalty shoot out to decide who would progress through with Holohan, Clifton, Kiernan and Pearson all scoring while Charles and Bobb saw their efforts saved.
How we lined up
Mikki van Sas was in goal for City and shielded by a back four of Ezra Carrington, Finley Burns, Jadel Katongo and Josh Wilson-Esbrand. Skipper Shea Charles was the holding midfielder with Dire Mebude and Kian Breckin also in the engine room.
What it means
It’s Grimsby who join Mansfield in Friday’s draw. For City we can reflect of a campaign with plenty of positives and learnings but no further involvement this term.
With the World Cup finals taking centre stage imminently, it means our next PL2 match will not be until the New Year with City slated to take on Arsenal at the Academy Stadium on Sunday, January 8, kick-off 2pm.
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