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Grimsby 'keeper: We go again, we have no choice

A disconsolate Grimsby Town left Wembley today vowing to pick themselves up for another season in the Conference.

A penalty shoot-out was all that separated the Mariners and Bristol Rovers in the showpiece game watched by a record crowd of over 47,000.

Manager Paul Hurst described his players' heartbreak at the loss, while goalkeeper James McKeown vowed to go again next season:

Grimsby Town manager reflects on Conference Final defeat

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  1. Josh Stead at Wembley Stadium

Wembley heartbreak for the Mariners

Grimsby Town have failed to make it to the Football League, losing the Conference Playoff Final 5-3 on penalties.

Both managers on the Wembley touchline Credit: Press Association

Lennell John-Lewis scored within two minutes at a warm Wembley stadium to settle the Mariners' fans nerves and put his side on the front foot for the opening of the first half. After that Rovers came back into the game to make for an entertaining contest, with Grimsby Town having the pick of the chances.

Rovers' goalkeeper, Will Puddy was lucky not to be sent off for a deliberate hand-ball outside of the box, but referee, Ross Joyce, kept the game alive as a contest by letting him off with a warning.

Full blooded tackles and plenty of passion from both teams, Rovers levelled the scoring at the half hour mark. Taking advantage of poor defending from The Mariners in the box, Ellis Harrison hammering home from close range.

Neither side could conjure up anything meaningful in the second half. Both sides saw plenty of the ball, but neither managed to fashion anything too dangerous - Grimsby's best chances coming deep into the half with a threatening ball flashed across the box, but no one to meet it and a mazy run into the box from substitute Jon-Paul Pittman, but without any end product.

Tiredness started to take hold as the tie went to extra-time, with Grimsby having the better chances, but failing to find the necessary final ball to carve out an advantage.

With spot kicks awaiting, Rovers made a last minute change of goalkeeper, swapping Will Puddy for ex-Grimsby man Steve Mildenhall.

Kicking towards their own fans, Grimsby matched Rovers kick for kick, until forward, Jon-Paul Pittman fired his penalty well over the bar, and Rovers kept up their clinical form from the spot to fire themselves into the Football League.

Plenty of Grimsby Town fans stayed after the outcome to applaud their players who gave a good account of themselves throughout, the stand-out performance coming from Congolese centre-half Aristote Nsiala, whose pace and strength bailed his back line out several times.

The battle to regain Football League status begins again next season for Grimsby Town and their fans.

  1. Josh Stead at Wembley Stadium

Bristol Rovers v Grimsby goes to penalties

Penalties await. Grimsby had the better chances during extra-time, but again neither side could find a way through.

Rovers made a last minute change of goalkeeper, taking off Will Puddy in place of ex-Grimsby stopper Steve Mildenhall for the shootout.

The atmosphere inside Wembley Stadium is tense as the players await their chance to join the Football League.

  1. Josh Stead at Wembley Stadium

Full Time: Bristol Rovers 1 - 1 Grimsby Town

The Conference play-off final at Wembley Stadium between Grimsby Town and Bristol Rovers is headed to extra time as neither side could find a goal to break the 1-1 deadlock.

Both sides saw plenty of the ball, but neither managed to fashion anything too dangerous - Grimsby's best chances coming deep into the half with a threatening ball flashed across the box, but no one to meet it and a mazy run into the box, but without any end product.

Centre-half, Aristote Nsiala was the standout performer of the half, his pace keeping the Rovers' attack at bay when they tried to break through. Depsite an injury scare, the Congolese international made a fantastic last ditch tackle outside his own box near the end of the half.

The sides will now play a further 30 minutes in the hope of finding a winner.

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  1. Josh Stead at Wembley Stadium

Half-time report: Bristol Rovers 1 - 1 Grimsby Town

Half-time at Wembley Stadium and it's all square between Grimsby Town and Bristol Rovers in the Conference Play-off Final.

A counter attacking goal put Grimsby ahead after just two minutes

A counter attacking goal put Grimsby ahead after just two minutes as Lennell John-Lewis scored to settle the Mariner's fans nerves. After that Rovers eventually came back into the game to make for an entertaining contest, with Grimsby Town having the pick of the chances.

Rovers' goalkeeper, Will Puddy was lucky not to be sent off for a deliberate hand-ball outside of the box, but referee, Ross Joyce, kept the game alive as a contest by letting him off with a warning.

Full blooded tackles and plenty of both passion from both teams, Rovers levelled the scoring at the half hour mark, taking advantage of poor defending from The Mariners in the box, Ellis Harrison hammering home from close range.

With the second half to come, only 45 minutes stand between Grimsby Town and the Football League if they're able to find a breakthrough.

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