Grimsby Town 1 Carlisle United 1: Even the cut-out images of supporters at the opposite end of Blundell Park were seen to cringe when poor James McKeown passed his way into infamy in the 46th minute. Give the keeper some credit, though. It was easily the best finish of the second half.

Carlisle couldn’t show similar accuracy when trying to emulate the Grimsby No1. A point on the road is no bad thing when you are in strong home form, as United are, but their position in League Two’s play-off places could be even better with some extra finesse in opposition territory.

It wasn’t on offer here. Not too much was, in truth, for those seeking a spectacle. It was a windswept contest, a skirmish by the sea – “the worst game in the world,” said Ian Holloway, interrupting Chris Beech’s post-match interview with a blunter assessment – Carlisle the slightly better side but never doing enough to convince you they were going to leave this fishing town with all the points in their net.

They will, as they reflect on a largely unmemorable battle, gladly take the one they got thanks to McKeown’s own-goal, which has probably already had a few thousand online viewings by the time you read this.

Our merciless social media age won’t stand for anything less. Someone out there, you hope, might have a little sympathy for the experienced Mariners goalie, whose attempt to redirect Luke Waterfall’s backpass seemed designed for those old blooper videos presented by people like Danny Baker and Nick Hancock.

McKeown couldn’t even blame the wind or the rain. It was a simple moment of dreadful misjudgement and execution. It gave Carlisle an unexpected leg-up after Mattie Pollock had crashed Grimsby into the lead, but they couldn’t take full advantage of the slapstick donation.

The conditions on Saturday were not exactly tailored to fine football – and any criticism comes with the caveat that it has been an unbeaten week on the road for the Cumbrians – but both at Oldham and here they couldn’t lace their attacking efforts with the necessary clarity.

Nor were their set-pieces on the money. Carlisle had so many dead-ball situations here it was a surprise to see the ball in open play at times. But their deliveries were moderate, their sharpness at the breaking ball not there. “There was a lot of honesty on the pitch, but not a lot of quality,” accepted Beech.

Defensively – other than the moment Pollock found space to belt Grimsby in front – United were at least sound enough. Holloway’s side didn’t have too much to show for the energy they put into things. Paul Farman had few reasons to dirty his gloves.

That deserves marks on such a miserable day. What Carlisle need to progress from games like this is a more fluent method when going forward. Joshua Kayode shoulders plenty of work for such a young line-leader but was not particularly impactful here, and could use a few more things to feast on in the penalty area.

United’s other key men flirted with the idea of turning this game, but never quite got there. There were the usual outbreaks of skill and danger from Gime Toure, occasional canny turns by Lewis Alessandra, the odd driving intervention from Callum Guy. None of the above, though, occurred for long enough. Carlisle couldn’t find their spark and this was one of Jon Mellish’s less influential afternoons lately. They are, we should remember though, healthily-placed in seventh after eight games and unbeaten in five, with a couple of home fixtures either side of a trek to Exeter to try and bolster that position now.

Their first-half efforts to do so here had the benefit of the wind but not the vigour seen against Colchester and Oldham. Toure was alert to possibilities, as was Grimsby’s Owen Windsor as the home side tried to emerge from the hectic early battle by spreading the ball wide and darting into United’s danger zone.

Generally, though, when one Blues defender was outdone, another tidied up, and when Carlisle’s pressing improved it led to free-kicks, semi-opportunities and one excellent headed chance for Toure from Alessandra’s cross. Yet none was taken, and then Grimsby scored: a George Williams corner from the left which evaded the first man, allowing Pollock to arrive with a firm finish.

Carlisle responded with more of the same, Toure testing McKeown from 20 yards, Alessandra having an effort blocked, George Tanner floating a free-kick cross just over and Mellish driving wide. The idea seemed to be that persistence rather than craft might find a crack in Grimsby, but then McKeown turned Waterfall’s pass into his net and this was quite the plot twist before the 47th minute had been reached.

Nothing as dramatic followed it, alas. There was plenty of endeavour, but it was perhaps telling that Holloway remained seated for almost the entire game, only popping to his feet late on when Grimsby had a free-kick. Before then, sporadic moments had been and gone: Toure dropping the shoulder and drawing fouls, Kayode making limited use of a headed chance, Toure again speeding forward but being crowded out, and – the moment that exasperated Beech the most – Kayode getting in the way of Gavin Reilly as the sub prepared to shoot.

That rather summed things up at the moment of truth, and thankfully Grimsby didn’t make them suffer, Hayden doing enough when a free-kick almost dropped for James Hanson, and the vice-captain later seeing off Windsor. The rain then lashed across Blundell Park as the 1-1 draw drifted into obscurity.

“I feel a bit for our fans if they’ve paid to watch that today,” Beech said, thinking of United’s iFollow faithful back home. Poor McKeown, for his part, may have been glad that the stands behind and around him had been empty, but no doubt cursed the fact that nothing else happened to push his howler down the post-match agenda.