TEN-man Grimsby Town suffered their second defeat of the season as they were soundly beaten by Nuneaton Town at Blundell Park.
The Mariners were second best for much of the game against their Midlands opponents, who continued their excellent start to the season.
Headed goals either side of the half-hour from defender Gavin Cowan and striker Andrew Brown did the damage for the visitors, before Aswad Thomas saw red for Town, who were forced to play more than half of the game a man down.
Grimsby were not lacking in effort and they pulled one goal back through substitute Andy Cook with four minutes to go.
But it proved to be too little, too late as Nuneaton held firm to claim all three points.
Two changes were made to the Town side that beat Hyde last time out, as Alex Rodman was rewarded for notching the winner in that game with a place in the starting XI.
He replaced Liam Hearn, who dropped to the bench, while Paul Bignot came in at right-back in place of the injured Sam Hatton.
James McKeown started in goal, with Bignot, Shaun Pearson, Chris Doig and Thomas making up the defence.
Craig Disley, Andi Thanoj and Patrick McLaughlin were the midfielders, with Joe Colbeck, Lenell John-Lewis and Rodman forming the three-man attack.
Hearn was joined on the Town bench by Scott Kerr, Cook, Scott Neilson and Paul Walker.
There was no place in the Nuneaton starting line-up for former Grimsby striker Greg Pearson, who had to be content with a place on the substitutes list.
Instead, the West Midlands side would look to Wes York, Brown and Louis Moult to grab the goals that would continue their unbeaten start to the season.
Colbeck forced the first corner of the game within two minutes and Rodman was fouled in its aftermath to give the Mariners an early free kick in a good position. McLaughlin’s left-footed shot went over the bar.
Nuneaton’s first corner came two minutes later but James Armson’s driven delivery from the right was headed clear by Disley.
After a scrappy start, a period of Grimsby possession led to another corner on 10 minutes, before a long throw from McLaughlin saw the ball eventually break for Disley to fire over the bar from 20 yards.
Striker Moult flashed a ball across the six-yard box at the other end soon afterwards but nobody in the red of Nuneaton was there to connect with it.
A foul on York by Thomas gave the visitors a free kick midway inside the Town half on the quarter-hour but again, Disley was there to head Armson’s ball clear.
Brown sent a free header wide as the Nuneaton pressure continued, before Town’s next real attack saw Rodman fouled by Theo Streete, who was booked for the challenge. McLaughlin’s free kick looked to be comfortable for keeper Dimitar Evitimov but he only gathered it at the second attempt.
Armson chipped the ball against Thomas to win a corner on 26 minutes and this time, it led to the opening goal, as Armson drove the ball to the far post and centre-back COWAN met it with a towering header that beat McKeown.
Things got worse for the Mariners six minutes later, when the away side doubled their advantage. York worked an opening near the edge of the Town box but instead of shooting, he chipped a cross to the unmarked BROWN at the far post, who headed across McKeown to make it 2-0.
Nuneaton had been the better side and deserved their lead, as Town struggled to build meaningful attacks and test Evitimov in the visitors’ goal.
Thomas was yellow-carded for a foul that gave the men in red a free kick on the right side of the Grimsby box but this time, they could not convert it into a chance in front of goal.
The Mariners were second best so far and their managers acted nine minutes before the break, sending Hearn on in place of McLaughlin and pushing Rodman back into the left side of midfield.
A cross from Bignot on the right two minutes later led to Disley heading wide of the mark, before a floated free kick from Rodman after a foul on John-Lewis went through to Evitimov after it was headed back across goal by Pearson.
McKeown had to beat a shot from Moult away from his goal on 42 minutes as Nuneaton continued to attack.
Then came a moment that compounded Town’s first-half misery, as Thomas was shown the red card for kicking out at a Nuneaton player off the ball to leave the hosts down to ten men.
A quick break from Nuneaton almost led to a third goal when Brown crossed for Moult but this time, McKeown got to his volley and kept the ball out.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side, the ten men of Grimsby were left with a mountain to climb in the second half.
Young right-back Walker replaced Colbeck as the Mariners opted to keep a full complement of defenders after the interval.
Town won two early corners before Nuneaton replied with a free kick where Moult could not keep his shot down.
Hearn and John-Lewis linked up well to create an opening for Disley five minutes in but he was crowded out on the edge of the box.
Connor Taylor came on in place of York for Nuneaton three minutes later, with the away side launching another spell of pressure afterwards.
Disley escaped a booking for a late challenge on midfielder Adam Walker, before a Nuneaton corner was headed over the bar by Streete under pressure from Thanoj.
Armson won a corner just after the hour and from it, the away side had a penalty appeal turned down when Brown went down under a challenge by Doig.
Midfielder Daniel Sleath had the next chance for Nuneaton when he found himself with a shooting opportunity from 18 yards but McKeown made a good save, getting down to push the ball away from danger.
Another corner came on 65 minutes as the visitors continued to dominate but they could not create anything from it, as McKeown claimed a catch from Walker’s high delivery.
Rodman won a corner at the other end after a positive run into the box but Nuneaton broke and substitute Taylor earned another flag-kick.
Cook replaced John-Lewis in the Grimsby attack for the last 15 minutes of the game as the home side looked to haul themselves back into the contest.
And they had their lifeline with four minutes to go, when Rodman won a corner on the left and from it, COOK headed home to make it 2-1.
After looking to be out of the game, the Mariners were suddenly right back in it and they piled forward in a bid to snatch what had looked a very unlikely point.
Three added minutes were signalled, with Grimsby still on the attack.
But they were unable to force a second goal and Nuneaton held on to seal their victory and the Mariners must now look ahead to next Saturday’s televised trip to Luton Town.