GRIMSBY Town twice came from behind but fell to a late winner as Lincoln City claimed all three points from a keenly-contested local derby at Sincil Bank.
The Mariners struggled in the early stages as they were not allowed to settle by their hosts, who took an eighth-minute lead through Jordan Burrow.
Town could have gone further behind when Aristote Nsiala gave away a penalty but Ben Tomlinson hit the post from the spot.
Instead, the visitors were back in it before the break when the recalled Craig Disley made it 1-1.
Lincoln regained their advantage when Sean Newton struck from the game’s second penalty but their lead was to last just two minutes until Jon-Paul Pittman equalised.
But the hosts had the final say with just three minutes to go, when Hamza Bencherif bundled the ball home following a corner.
Two changes were made to the Town side that beat Welling last time out, with Lenell John-Lewis coming back in after suspension and Disley restored to the starting XI after a spell on the bench.
John-Lewis replaced Jack Mackreth, with Paddy McLaughlin also dropping to the bench as Disley returned.
James McKeown started in goal, with Paul Bignot, Shaun Pearson, Nsiala and Carl Magnay making up the defence.
Disley, Scott Brown and Craig Clay formed a midfield trio, with Scott Neilson supporting strikers John-Lewis and Pittman.
Mackreth and McLaughlin were joined on the Grimsby substitutes list by Ross Hannah, Chris Doig and Paul Walker.
Lincoln would look to striker Burrow and wide-man Ben Tomlinson to get the goals that could break a run of three defeats on the spin, while Alan Power would aim to pull the strings from the Imps midfield.
The hosts were the first to attack, with a ball into the box by Tomlinson blocked for a corner, which led to midfielder and one-time Town loanee Arnaud Mendy firing well over the bar.
Grimsby’s first real attack came soon afterwards but Pittman miscued his shot from the right and it went out for a throw-in on the far side.
A second Lincoln corner came on five minutes, when Jon Nolan’s cross was put behind by McKeown after Bencherif failed to direct it past him.
John-Lewis let fly with a 25-yard shot that stung the palms of home keeper Nick Townsend, who recovered to gather the ball ahead of the onrushing Disley.
Soon afterwards, the home side opened the scoring, when a cross from Tomlinson on the left was met by BURROWS, who guided a header past McKeown and into the net.
The Mariners looked to respond from a free kick near the halfway line on 13 minutes which was flicked on for Disley but he was adjudged to be offside as he shaped to shoot.
John-Lewis was fouled by Newton on the Town right to bring about another free kick three minutes later but Brown’s delivery was headed clear.
Neilson jinked into the box to win a corner soon afterwards as the visitors started to see more of the ball but again, the delivery was cleared.
The hosts were given the perfect opportunity to double their lead on 19 minutes when they were given a penalty for a foul by Nsiala but Tomlinson could not take advantage as his kick cannoned back off the post and to safety.
A low cross from Disley on the right was easily cleared for a throw on 25 minutes, before the Mariners won a corner but Brown’s kick was too strong.
Although they were seeing plenty of the ball, Town were not being allowed to settle by their hosts, who were pressing hard and limiting their opportunities to launch meaningful attacks.
A good piece of skill by Neilson saw him manage to work some space near the Lincoln box to get a shot away but his low, curling effort was comfortably stopped by Townsend.
A foul by Brown gave Lincoln a free kick on the left just after the half-hour but Newton’s ball was headed away from danger by Nsiala.
The home side were inches away from going 2-0 ahead soon afterwards though, when McKeown got fingertips to Power’s 25-yard shot to deflect it onto the bar and out for a corner.
At the other end, a poor challenge by Nat Brown on John-Lewis meant a Grimsby free kick on the right, near the edge of the penalty area. Neilson stood the ball up to the far post, where Pearson sent a header over the bar.
The hosts were given another chance to get the ball into the danger zone with a foul by Disley on the left but the resulting free kick was headed away by Nsiala.
The Mariners had been on the back foot for parts of the half but they found their way back into the game three minutes before the break, when a free kick from the right was not dealt with by Townsend and DISLEY steered the ball into the net from 12 yards to make it 1-1.
John-Lewis latched onto a through-ball a minute later but he could not make it count, firing a low shot at the keeper.
Lincoln looked to snatch their lead back when they won a free kick 30 yards out but McKeown was equal to Bencherif’s drilled shot, tipping it around his post for a corner.
Two added minutes were played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side, the scores remained level at the interval.
Town would have been the happier of the two sides with the scoreline, having fallen behind and struggled to impose themselves on the game in the early stages.
But they had recovered well to restore parity, while the home side would have been disappointed not to go in ahead.
No changes were made before the restart and the Mariners had the first chance of the second half when Brown and Neilson combined to send John-Lewis through. The striker looked to find the bottom corner with a curled shot but could only watch it go wide for a goal kick.
Another chance was not long in coming though and from it, the visitors should probably have taken the lead. Neilson ran through the middle and hit a shot that came back off the woodwork and Magnay could not convert the rebound, firing over the top.
A challenge from behind on Neilson earned Mendy a yellow card on 52 minutes and the game then stopped after Pearson went down with what looked to be a knee injury and had to be replaced by Doig.
Town had started the second half better but they were to gift Lincoln a second penalty when Bignot was guilty of pulling Tomlinson back. This time, it was NEWTON who stepped up and he made no mistake from the spot, firing low to McKeown’s right after Bignot was booked for the foul.
The Mariners’ response was swift though and they were back level again within two minutes with their next chance. John-Lewis did well to work some space on the edge of the area before passing to PITTMAN, who found the top corner of Townsend’s net with a well-placed shot.
Magnay tried his luck from long range on 63 minutes, although he didn’t trouble Townsend as the ball drifted wide.
Pittman then let fly from 20 yards a minute later but could only find the back of the stand.
The next shot came from Neilson as Town continued to ask the questions but the keeper was relatively untroubled by his low effort.
McLaughlin replaced Clay in the Grimsby midfield on 73 minutes and two minutes later, a golden chance came for the Mariners to take the lead when John-Lewis beat the Lincoln offside trap to go one-on-one with Townsend but after lifting the ball over the advancing keeper, he could only watch it clear the crossbar.
A Tomlinson long throw for the Imps led to a corner on their right soon afterwards but the visitors cleared the danger from the flag.
Nolan was replaced by Cambridge loanee and former Town target Delano Sam-Yorke in the Lincoln attack with 10 minutes remaining.
Tomlinson was booked for a poor challenge on Pittman near Town’s left touchline and from Neilson’s free kick, a header from John-Lewis was saved by Townsend.
Both teams were pushing for a winner and with a little under five minutes to go, Lincoln appeared to have snatched it when a corner from the right was not dealt with and BENCHERIF bundled it in at the far post.
Town were still aiming to get back into the game as it moved into four added minutes and Pittman got onto a right-wing cross at the near post but could not direct it towards goal.
A last-minute Grimsby corner saw McKeown come forward to join the attack but he found himself chasing back as the hosts broke through Sam-Yorke. The Town stopper did well to keep up with the attacker and force him wide, meaning when he eventually shot from a narrow angle, the ball went wide of the far post.
Ultimately, it did not matter though, as the referee’s final whistle followed not long afterwards, with the Mariners and their 1,762-strong travelling support left disappointed.
Town are next in action when Torquay United visit Blundell Park on Saturday.