The teams emerged five minutes early, led out by the ever embarrasing, if not energetic Scunny Bunny- who ran towards the Iron fans wildly, arms aloft in an attempt to rouse the 1700 travelling contingent. Whatever he was on, we want some. Particularly after the ninety minutes than ensued.
So to the first talking point, an awfully planned and observed minutes silence. Grimsby fans in the cantelivered affair accompanied the tune of a bugle with chanting, much to the disgust of most people in what was on the whole a packed but fairly quiet Blundell Park. Despite attempts by Cods who were respectfully observing the silence to quieten the lager louts goading the Iron contingent, it soon descended into a farce.
It transpired the bugle was infact to be played before the silence began, but the depleted tannoy system failed to replay the message adequately to the pumped up fans inside Blundell Park and a huge roar of anticipation followed the referee's whistle, when silence was expected. Poor organisation by the Cods, not helped by a select few Grimsby fans or the Iron fan who's frustrated outburst did more harm than good. The afternoon wasn't off to the best of starts, but surely things had to improve. A fiesty derby in store.
Infact, it didn't take long for the game to see it's first tackle or two... however these were not of the footballing kind. Only minutes after the game had kicked off two streakers easily found their way onto the pitch and ran straight towards the Iron fans, both eventually escorted off after swan dives infront of the away end.
That was about as amusing as a dour afternoon got.
Despite off field antics, it's not easy to get away from the fact that the Iron were appaling. Their non-league, noisy neighbours, will be left cursing some goalkeeping heroics from Sam Slocombe who kept the Iron in the hat for the next round with a string of great saves.
There was little creativity, Lawsy's side were bereft of any pace and never got at the Grimsby defence. It will probably be the easiest game the Cods' 'keeper will have all season. Not one save. Boring.
Instead of testing the home side by keeping the ball on the deck, which only seemed to be a tactic used for around 45 seconds after half time, Byrne and Waterfall launched aimless long balls for the seven foot tall man mountain in Grimsby's defence to head away time and time again. It felt like watching the Iron when Laws was last at the helm, when we nearly lost our Football League status.
In truth, you couldn't tell the Cods' were the conference fodder. They bossed the majority of the first half and the lively Hannah and John-Lewis both had opportunities for our hostile hosts. Lewis should really have put the home side infront on the stroke of half time but fired miles over after getting in behind the defence.
The Cods had appeals for a penalty turned down at the start of the second half. Slocombe raced out to tackle Hannah, but seemed to have won the ball cleanly just as the Grimsby frontman had looked certain to score.
Etienne Esajas looked the only source of creativity going forward, but was wasteful in possession at times, as was Hawkridge, who probably should have been replaced as the game wore on. But as Esajas did begin to have a little joy down the left, it was soon snuffed out by Laws. Our very own Edgar Davids lookalikey too knock and Laws opted to quickly replace him with Matt Sparrow in a Richie Ryan at Doncaster type moment, despite Esajas visibly wanting to continue.
Sparrow, who had been struggling for fitness during the week lasted all of thirty seconds. A tactical masterstroke. Ribeiro on the right wing.
As the game wore on, the Iron did fashion a few half chances. Hawkridge whipped a ball in for substitute Deon Burton, but his header was planted well wide.
We could and probably should have won it in the last minute- but it fell to the wrong man. A goalbound effort from McAlister, after a massive scramble, was cleared off the line and Grimsby forced a replay they more than deserved.
Oh, and Connor Jennings scored another two for Macclesfield.