A hard working Grimsby Town outfit recorded their 11th draw in 15 games by frustrating promotion chasing Notts County in a 1-1 score line at Meadow Lane.
Lee Hughes fired Notts into the lead on 18 minutes after his side had enjoyed the better of the early exchanges. More chances followed as the half progressed but the Magpies were unable to put any of them away.
They were made to pay the price on the stroke of half time when Jamie Devitt made the most of a rare attacking move. It was his second of the term at Meadow Lane, following his goal for Shrewsbury back in October.
County huffed and puffed after the break to no avail in another brave showing by the Mariners.
Dave Kevan opted to field an attacking 4-3-3 formation against the League Two strugglers, as his side looked to make up ground on the leading pack. With an eight point gap separating the Magpies from the top-three, a win would put them in a strong position heading into another mass of league fixtures.
Both teams probed early on, the visitors resorting to a long ball approach, as Notts looked to push them back in their own half. Akin to the trip to Blundell Park, 11 days prior, Grimsby appeared organised, limiting chances early on.
Karl Hawley fired a tame half volley from distance and Hughes nearly latched onto a loose ball in the box, though both failed to break the deadlock. Notts' top-marksman didn't fail to hit the back of the net with his next opportunity, however, tucking away his 23rd of the campaign.
Ben Davies had whipped a teasing, in-swinging delivery towards the far top-corner from the left-wing that allowed Hughes to simply glance past the stationary Nick Colgan. The Mariners' back-line stood hands on hips, dejected, as the forward trotted away to perform his trademark jig with the jubilant Kop.
Hughes nearly grabbed a second within a minute, racing onto a slide pass by Luke Rodgers, only Colgan beat him to the ball, sliding to hack clear. Rodgers, himself, unleashed an opportunistic effort from the edge of the area as well, which breezed past the foot of the post.
The Grimsby stopper definitely had to stay on his toes, with County eagerly attempting to double their advantage. He was almost left blushing, too, when Davies fired unexpectedly from 30 yards out.
Colgan stooped to gather but he appeared to misjudge the strike, which thudded off the greasy surface to cannon off his outstretched arm, onto the top of the net. A smart set-piece followed, leading to Stephen Hunt being narrowly evaded by Davies' deep, swinging delivery.
Advanced full-back Jamie Clapham could have scored as half time approached in a tidy move by the Magpies. Hawley met the defender with a looping cross that he was unable to convert from five yards out, the ball trickling harmlessly wide.
It looked likely that Notts would go into the interval a goal to the good - until debutant Devitt found time probe Clapham. Twisting and turning, he created enough room to curve over Kasper Schmeichel and under the crossbar.
The goal appeared to lift Town and they came out in the second period with a greater willingness to attack. Even though a resolute backline restricted their access, on-loan centre-back Olly Lancashire managed to strike well, forcing Schmeichel to smother on his goal line.
Notts steadily got back on top, once more searching to nudge themselves in front, and Davies almost did so when he collected the ball half-way into the Grimsby half. Carrying the ball into space, he fired tenaciously, almost skimming the crossbar.
The ball was in the back of the net and the home crowd on their feet shortly after, when Hughes raced onto Hawley's flick-on into the goalmouth. Nipping past Colgan, he prodded home but was booked for the use of his hand, meaning that the hunt for the second goal continued.
Ben Wright could have put Neil Woods' battlers ahead at the other end. Proudlock pondered a shot with some clever footwork and managed to find space, however, Wright took over, allowing Schmeichel to rush out assertively to block at his near upright.
He was unable to do anything with Michael Leary's hopeful punt, though, which cannoned off the roof of the bar with Schmeichel scurrying back. Craig Westcarr retorted to force Colgan into his finest stop of the night, stretching low to his right, to flick away with his fingertips.
County fans let out groans of anguish for the umpteenth time on this occasion and once more when Davies came even closer. Another opening appeared for the creative midfielder but his daisy cutting effort squirmed millimetres wide.
It was the closest that Notts came, as the three minutes of added time passed by. Neal Bishop's wild, shinned volley flew over and Westcarr's close-range drive fisted away.
Moments prior to the final whistle, Hughes was given his marching orders for a late challenge on Colgan.&nbsp;He will now miss the&nbsp;trip&nbsp;to Aldershot at the weekend.&nbsp;
Attendance: 5,163 (721 Grimsby Town supporters)
Swan Homes and InsideLand Man of the Match: Ben Davies
Notts County: Kasper Schmeichel, John Thompson (Westcarr 46), Mike Edwards, Stephen Hunt, Jamie Clapham, Neal Bishop, Ricky Ravenhill, Ben Davies, Luke Rodgers, Lee Hughes, Karl Hawley (Hamshaw 83).
Substitutes: Russell Hoult, Graeme Lee, Matt Hamshaw, Ben Fairclough, Sean Canham, Craig Westcarr, Ade Akinbiyi.
Scorer(s): Hughes 18
Yellow Card(s): Edwards 53, Hughes 58, 90
Red Card(s): Hughes 90
Grimsby Town: Nick Colgan, Joe Widdowson, Dean Sinclair (Leary 68), Oliver Lancashire, Peter Sweeney, Adam Proudlock (Akpa Akpro 75), Peter Bore, Jamie Devitt, Rob Atkinson, Mark Hudson, Tommy Wright (Fletcher 85).
Substitutes: Leigh Overton, Nick Hegarty, Paul Linwood, Michael Leary, Michael Coulson, Wes Fletcher, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.
Scorer(s): Devitt 45
Yellow Card(s): Proudlock 6, Sweeney 90
Report by Dane Vincent