Grimsby Town 1 Doncaster Rovers 1: Marosi the penalty hero as Rovers claim bonus point

Alfie Beestin connects with a diving header
Alfie Beestin connects with a diving header

Marko Marosi saved three penalties as Rovers claimed the shootout bonus point in their Checkatrade Trophy clash with Grimsby.

Andy Williams scored a superb equaliser after Rovers fell behind to a Harry Cardwell strike in a tight clash at Blundell Park.

With the scores level at full time, attention turned to the spot with Marosi the hero as Rovers recovered from 3-1 down to win 4-3.

Darren Ferguson promised changes and delivered nine - with only centre halves Joe Wright and Andy Butler remaining in the starting XI from the weekend defeat at AFC Wimbledon. Transfer-listed Harry Middleton started.

His Grimsby counterpart Russell Slade opted for eight changes and was able to field currently suspended duo, skipper Danny Collins and Sam Jones, due to league sanctions not applying in the controversial competition.

Grimsby supporters have responded to the Checkatrade Trophy by actively turning their backs to it and the stands were sparse at Blundell Park.

Some fans opted to be elsewhere, staging their own match against Rovers supporters similarly minded about the competition, many see as a backdoor for Premier League B teams to enter the English league system.

For all its much-publicised faults, the Checkatrade Trophy was a competition that last season proved profitable for Rovers as they blooded several youngsters.

One of those who particularly impressed in the group stages a year ago was Liam Mandeville - and he took centre stage for Rovers again.

Faced with a battle to force his way back into the starting XI for Saturday’s clash with Peterborough United, Mandeville went about impressing in the right way.

He was the link-up man, regularly dropping deep from off the front line to take possession and build attacks with an excellent array of passing. It was everything Rovers lacked in their bitterly disappointing performance at Wimbledon.

On an evening when they certainly did not have it all their own way, Mandeville was involved in all that was good about Rovers’ attacking play.

There was not a great deal of that in the early stages however as Rovers certainly took their time to settle into the game.

Grimsby were the livelier early on but struggled to test Marko Marosi.

As Rovers began to find their feet with sustained possession and enjoy some success in the opposition half, they fell behind.

And both Middleton and Marosi were at fault as Grimsby took a 29th minute lead.

Diallang Jaiyesimi robbed possession from Middleton with ease and charged forward, unleashing a low powerful drive which Marosi spilled, pushing it straight to Cardwell who slotted in comfortably.

Rovers responded well and deservedly grabbed the equaliser on 39 minutes with a wonderful strike from Williams.

The goal itself was crafted with some wonderful play from Mandeville, who sent a brilliant through-ball to Rodney Kongolo with the outside of his boot. Kongolo cut back to Williams on the edge of the box with the striker letting the ball run across his body before smacking a shot in off the underside of the bar.

Wright and Butler were unsurprisingly pulled at the break with Ferguson throwing on Niall Mason and Will Longbottom to switch to a 3-5-2 system.

Rovers were not quite as sharp after the break, struggling to string together passes as fluidly as they had in the first half.

And while there was very little between the two sides, Grimsby had the edge.

Sam Jones twice drew decent saves from Marosi while substitute Tom Bolarinwa arguably should have done much better when played in one-on-one but produced a tame effort.

It became clear the game was headed to the penalties and so it did.

It looked as though the extra point was headed to Grimsby after Williams hit the bar and Mandeville saw a shot saved.

But Marosi saved from Jones, Bolarinwa and Cardwell to snatch it for Rovers.