STUART McCall reckons it will take time for City to start feeling good about themselves again.

McCall is determined to put smiles back on faces at Valley Parade after the troubled end to Gary Bowyer’s tenure.

Luke Hendrie’s last-gasp equaliser for Grimsby prevented the club legend from enjoying a winning start to his third spell as manager.

“The difference it would have been if we’d hung on for the last two minutes,” said McCall. “There’s a little bit of despondency because we were so near.

“If the game had finished 0-0, it wouldn’t have felt so bad.

“But you look at all the stuff you’ve got to do in football at this level. You need to defend quite strongly and put the effort in and I think we got that from them.

“But it’s given us plenty of food for thought. We’ve only been in two minutes and there’s a lot to work on.”

City’s draw, having led through a goal credited to debutant Lee Novak, means they have gone eight games since the last win against Morecambe on New Year’s Day.

McCall is likely to make changes for tomorrow’s home clash with bottom side Stevenage.

He added: “We had 22 outfield players training with us so straight away I realised we were going to have to put six in the stand.

“There are a few of them who probably thought they might have been knocking on the door to start.

“But you’ve got to have a certain balance to the side.

“We’ve got a lot of players who haven’t played much football, the likes of Zeli (Ismail), Jamie Devitt and Glenn Middleton. We will probably look to freshen it up for tomorrow’s game.

“It’s about getting them to where we want to be and how we want to play. It takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight.

“But while you try to do that, you need to keep picking up points.”

Despite the late sickener, McCall enjoyed his return to the dug-out after 11 months out since being sacked by Scunthorpe. He was loudly cheered by City's biggest crowd of the season.

“It was good to be back involved and in the heart of it," he said. "I thought the fans were terrific, both Grimsby and our lot, and hopefully they will come back tomorrow night and get behind the lads.

“It’s not about me. It’s about the club and the players and about us getting the best out of what we’ve got.

“We want to drive forward and try to put smiles on faces. The way to do that is to win football games.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t deliver but now we get another chance.”

City remain in eighth and outside the play-offs on goal difference from Cheltenham, who have played two fewer games.

McCall said: “I don’t want to talk about promotion. It’s about improving and getting as many points as we can to at least move up a position.

“Move up one and it gives us a chance of promotion, that’s for sure, because we’re into the play-offs.

“I spoke to Ian (Holloway) and he’s been in a little while now. He is starting to see certain things he’s after.

“But we got the drive and the crowd pumping the players up – it was a different atmosphere to thrive on.

“I’m not sure what some of our lads can and can’t do at the moment but we’ll work that out quickly."