GRIMSBY Town suffered a rare home defeat as Kidderminster Harriers won at Blundell Park for the second time this season.
In a clash between two sides with realistic title ambitions, the visitors took control before half-time with two clinical goals on the break from strikers Anthony Malbon and Michael Gash.
Grimsby had it all to do in the second half but they threw themselves a lifeline when Ian Miller halved the deficit four minutes in.
From there, Town looked to be the team more likely to get the next goal and rescue a draw as they poured forward in search of an equaliser.
But the visitors weathered the storm and struck a decisive blow 13 minutes from time with Malbon’s second of the game.
Ross Hannah came into the Town side in attack in one of two changes made by Rob Scott and Paul Hurst to the XI that won at Forest Green Rovers in midweek, with Richard Brodie dropping down to the bench.
The other alteration saw Andi Thanoj start the game in place of the injured Derek Niven.
Shaun Pearson continued to be ruled out through injury, meaning Tuesday’s match winner Tom Naylor kept his place at the heart of defence for the visit of the Harriers.
James McKeown began in goal, with Bradley Wood, Naylor, Miller and Aswad Thomas forming the back four.
Joe Colbeck was again preferred to Jamie Devitt on the right wing, with Thanoj starting alongside Craig Disley in the middle and Marcus Marshall beginning the game on the left.
Hannah was joined by Andy Cook up front, with Brodie, Sam Hatton, Devitt, Lennell John-Lewis and Frankie Artus all named as substitutes.
Kidderminster made the trip north looking to bounce straight back after having their seven-game winning streak ended with a defeat by Gateshead in midweek.
That run has seen Steve Burr’s side establish themselves as firm title contenders alongside the Mariners and three other clubs, despite Kidderminster’s poor start to the season.
Harriers were also the last away side to win at Blundell Park as they triumphed 4-2 in an FA Cup tie in October.
A foul on Cook gave Town their first chance to attack on four minutes and although Colbeck’s delivery didn’t find a man in black and white inside the box, the visitors failed to clear until a foul by Cook on keeper Danny Lewis.
A free kick from Kyle Storer at the other end was headed away by Miller as both sides looked for an early goal.
Midfielder Storer then blasted a shot wide from 20 yards on six minutes after a ball into the box from Martin Devaney was blocked.
A 25-yard shot by Hannah was deflected wide for a corner four minutes later but Colbeck’s left-wing delivery beat everybody and went out for a throw-in on the opposite flank.
Cook hammered a wild volley over the top of the Osmond Stand after the ball had broken to him some 25 yards out after a long ball had been chiped by Naylor to Hannah.
Storer then flashed a snap-shot wide of McKeown’s goal from a similar distance, before an offside decision was given against Hannah after a Wood free kick from the halfway line.
Naylor had to concede a corner after a cross from Malbon on the Kidderminster left but Storer’s kick was headed away by Disley.
Another Town free kick came for a foul on Hannah and although they could not create a goalscoring opportunity from it, the Mariners kept possession in a dangerous area of the field until Marshall was caught offside.
More encouraging signs from the home side came when Marshall picked up a loose ball in midfield and ran into the box but his cross to the far post was too strong, although it was picked up by Colbeck on the right and a cross from there was caught by Lewis.
A slip by Thomas let the visitors in soon afterwards but McKeown was not called into action as a weak shot was prodded wide of the near post.
Devaney’s cross from the right was then put behind by Naylor for a corner and Storer’s low ball to the 18-yard line was met by Malbon, who hit a first-time shot high into the Pontoon Stand.
Lewis was forced to make a fantastic save just before the half-hour when a cross from Wood on the right was headed towards goal by Hannah. The keeper was equal to it, diving to tip the ball away.
The Mariners were punished soon afterwards as Kidderminster struck with a fine goal on the break. A ball in midfield was intercepted and pushed out to Mickey Demetriou on the left and his deep cross was met by MALBON to slot past McKeown at the far post.
Town’s response saw Cook and Marshall combine to win a corner on the left on 37 minutes but as Colbeck put the ball into the penalty area, the referee spotted an infringement and blew for a free kick.
A strong run down the right by Wood led to another corner as Chey Dunkley nipped in ahead of Hannah but the kick from Colbeck was cleared.
The game stopped for referee Michael Bull to receive treatment on an injury but after receiving attention from Town physic Dave Moore, the official was fit to continue.
Kidderminster were looking dangerous in attack and looked to be good value for their lead, although Town were trying hard to find an equaliser before the break.
Keeper Lewis had to be at his best to deny Hannah again on 42 minutes after the former Bradford striker got a flick to a cross from Marshall. The fingertips of the Kidderminster stopper ensured the ball went inches wide of the far post instead of settling in the net.
A foul on Marshall gave Grimsby another chance to get the ball into the box as the game moved into one added minute but the winger gave the ball away and the hosts were punished again as Kidderminster doubled their lead. This time, the ball was sent out to the right and when it was centred, GASH was there to finish from close range to make it 2-0.
Town had not played badly but they had missed their chances and were made to pay by their clinical visitors. Hannah may have felt he should have scored with one of his two opportunities but the away side had profited from their opportunities and looked to be in control at the halfway mark.
No changes were made before the restart and a foul by Lee Vaughan on Marrshall gave the Mariners their first chance to attack with a free kick on the left. From it, they halved their deficit, as Disley headed Colbeck’s delivery on and it broke for MILLER to half-volley into the roof of the net.
The away side almost restored their two-goal lead within two minutes when a free kick by McKeown was brought clear and Devaney had a chance to make it 3-1 but the Town keeper narrowed the angle and blocked the shot.
Devitt replaced Colbeck on the Town right on 54 minutes and his first involvement was to hit a cross that Lewis caught.
Town were looking much brighter now and they could have been on level terms after Devitt found Cook on the edge of the box but his shot went narrowly over the bar.
Hannah was shown a yellow card after a tackle near the halfway line, before he was put through down the right by Devitt but could only find the arms of Lewis with his cross.
James Vincent replaced Keith Briggs in the Kidderminster midfield on 65 minutes, before John-Lewis came on for the Mariners, with Hannah making way.
A foul on Devitt gave Town a free kick on the left and it had to be headed behind for a corner by Vaughan, although Devitt could not find a team-mate from the flag.
John-Lewis was booked for a high foot against Dunkley, before a free kick for Town came when Marshall was bundled over close to the edge of the box after a run through the middle. Devitt stepped up to take it but scooped his shot over the bar.
Malbon was shown a yellow card for delaying a Town throw-in by kicking the ball away, before Danny Pilkington came on for Devaney as the visitors made another substitution.
A shot from Pilkington from 18 yards proved comfortable for McKeown but the next time they went forward, the visitors had their third goal.
Another flowing move saw Jackman play a ball through and after it was sent across the six-yard line, MALBON was there to register his second of the game, despite the best efforts of Wood and McKeown to stop the ball crossing the line.
A free kick from Wood was cleared as Town looked for a quick reply that would bring them back into the game again.
Brodie came on for Marshall as the Town bosses looked to try something different in attack with 11 minutes left to play.
The striker won a corner on the right two minutes after coming on but Town could not make anything of the opportunity and Kidderminster eventually broke again through Pilkington but Thomas was there to intercept as he looked to slip the ball through to Malbon.
Five added minutes were played at the end of the game but the Mariners were unable to claw their way back into it as Kidderminster claimed an important three points towards their Blue Square Bet Premier title challenge.
The Mariners remain four points off the pace at the top of the table and they face another of their promotion rivals when they travel to Mansfield Town on Tuesday.
Match Sponsor: O Turner Insulation.