Grimsby Town 0 Ipswich Town 0
ON AN afternoon more suitable for the beach, it was perhaps inevitable that the television cameras should be trained on the only goalless draw of the opening weekend of the Nationwide League.
Grimsby and Ipswich produced a fluent and entertaining encounter and the blame for their failure to trouble the scorers must rest on the shoulders of Kingsley Black, who missed a penalty before some spectators had reached their seats.
The job would normally have fallen to last season's 21-goal top scorer, Kevin Donovan, whose goal in the play-off final against Northampton secured promotion back to the First Division. Donovan, however, is injured and Black shot too close to Richard Wright.
Black's efforts to make amends earned him a standing ovation when he was substituted but it was surprising that no one else could locate the path to goal. Grimsby's nimble front pair, Jack Lester and Lee Nogan, worried Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus whenever the ball was played to feet while Ipswich's speed on the counter-attack promised much before they faded after half-time.
In the end, George Burley's team had nothing more to show for their efforts than a volley from Kieron Dyer, struck firmly from the edge of the area which Aidan Davison did splendidly to tip against his crossbar.
Ipswich were given a jolt by the concession of a penalty after 64 seconds. Grimsby's gift was mostly of Mowbray's making, his ungainly swish at the ball giving Nogan a clear run at Wright, who fouled him.
Wright, however, has not been called into Glenn Hoddle's England get-together later this month - along with Dyer - for nothing and Black's spot-kick presented few problems as he dived to his right.
The England aspirant made a more difficult save in the 74th minute as Grimsby upped the tempo. He must have seen Stacy Coldicott's rising volley late, following a left-wing corner, but his outstretched right hand interrupted its seemingly inevitable path towards the top corner.
Grimsby manager Alan Buckley is poised to do something to improve their firepower by selling Steve Livingstone to St Johnstone and bringing in Preston's Lee Ashcroft.
The game's talking point, however, must be referee Alan Wiley's decision not to caution Wright while undeservedly booking Ipswich striker Bobby Petta for diving. While any action to curb cheating is welcome, cautioning every player who goes to ground in the penalty area is not the answer.