GRIMSBY Town lost for the second time in less than a week as in-form Torquay United claimed all three points at Blundell Park.
First-half goals from midfielders Courtney Richards and Luke Young did the damage for the away side, who stretched their unbeaten run to eight games.
The Mariners struggled to test visiting keeper Martin Rice for long periods of the game, although he was called into action to stop attempts from Lenell John-Lewis in the first half and Aristote Nsiala after the break.
Town also lost both of their strikers during the game, as Jon-Paul Pittman and John-Lewis were forced off the field through injury.
One change was made to the Grimsby side that was beaten at Lincoln in midweek, with Patrick McLaughlin replacing Craig Clay, who dropped to the bench.
James McKeown started in goal, while Shaun Pearson shook off a knock he picked up at Sincil Bank to take his place at the heart of a back four that also included Paul Bignot, Nsiala and Carl Magnay.
Scott Neilson, Craig Disley, Scott Brown and McLaughlin made up the midfield, with John-Lewis and Pittman again selected as the strikers.
Clay was joined on the Grimsby bench by Jack Mackreth, Ross Hannah, Chris Doig and Paul Walker.
Torquay made the long journey from Devon looking to continue their impressive start to life in the Conference following last season’s relegation from League Two.
The Gulls came into the game unbeaten since the opening day of the season, a run which had lifted them into the play-off positions after Tuesday’s away win at Chester.
Torquay won the first corner when a cross from Jordan Chapell was blocked by Magnay and captain Young’s kick was flicked over the bar by striker Ryan Bowman at the near post.
Bowman had another chance after Brown lost possession inside his own half and Courtney Richards took the ball on before the striker saw his shot comfortably saved by McKeown.
Town were yet to make an impression but a foul on John-Lewis gave them a free kick in a promising position on five minutes. McLaughlin’s shot from it was caught by visiting keeper Martin Rice.
John-Lewis went down looking for a penalty after he took the ball off the dawdling Angus Macdonald in the Torquay box but the referee instead awarded a corner, which was cleared. Town retained possession though and the ball was worked back for Pittman to head over the bar from a Brown cross.
Grimsby were starting to get on top and another opportunity came when John-Lewis pulled the ball back for Bignot but his cross-shot missed the target and went out for a goal kick.
A blow for the Mariners came on nine minutes, when Pittman looked to have pulled a hamstring as he stretched to try and keep the ball in on the left touchline. The striker immediately signalled that he was in trouble and he was replaced by Hannah.
The first goal came on 14 minutes and it was the visitors who took the lead when Dale Tonge combined with striker Duane Ofori-Acheampong, who slid the ball through for RICHARDS to finish from a narrow angle at the far post.
Pearson sent a header off-target at the other end as Grimsby looked to respond quickly, before Bowman headed wide from a cross by Ofori-Acheampong as Torquay attacked again.
Nsiala was blocked as he looked to shoot after a Magnay free kick had been headed down by Pearson, then Hannah could not quite control a through-ball from McLaughlin as Town continued to look for openings.
A Torquay corner was headed over the bar by Macdonald on 22 minutes, before a push on Brown by Chapell gave Town a free kick in a central position, from which John-Lewis forced Rice to push his shot away for a corner.
Winger Toby Ajala won a corner for the away side on 28 minutes, which caused problems in the Town box and led to a shot being blocked from 12 yards.
Another corner came on the visitors’ right when Magnay had to head a cross behind four minutes later but this time, Pearson cleared after Young’s ball to the far post was headed down by Macdonald.
The away side were having the better of things, with Town struggling to put passages of possession together.
But the hosts were given an opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone with a free kick from the right, although Bignot’s delivery was cleared.
They were made to pay when Torquay doubled their advantage eight minutes before the break. Bowman worked an opening after Town lost possession in midfield and after he was half-blocked, the ball broke for YOUNG to slot past McKeown from an acute angle.
It could have been 3-0 two minutes later, when Ofori-Acheampong’s flick gave Chapell a shooting chance but McKeown got fingertips to the low effort to tip it away for a corner.
At the other end, a free kick was chipped into the box by Neilson but Pearson’s header was caught by Rice in the Torquay goal.
The keeper had rarely been tested so far but he was called into action to push a 20-yard shot by John-Lewis away for a corner a minute before the break. That turned into a second flag-kick on the right , which was headed back for a third as the pressure started to build. This time, the visitors cleared.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and with no further chances before the half-time whistle, Torquay took a commanding lead into the dressing rooms.
The away side had deserved their lead and the Mariners would have a lot to do in the second half if they were to get anything out of the game.
Ashley Yeoman replaced Bowman for the visitors before the restart and Ofori-Acheampong was shown the first yellow card of the game two minutes in for a foul on the Town left.
Ajala had a chance for Torquay on 52 minutes after he picked the ball up in midfield and skipped past Disley before firing wide from 25 yards.
At the other end, the Mariners won a corner on the left but Neilson’s ball was headed away from danger.
The away side had created the better chances and they almost had another when Yeoman picked up a cross-field ball but when he passed to Ofori-Acheampong inside the Town penalty area, the offside flag went up.
Yeoman picked up a cheap yellow card for stopping Nsiala from clearing a ball deep inside the Grimsby half.
Town boss Paul Hurst made a double substitution two minutes before the hour, swapping Disley and McLaughlin for Clay and Mackreth.
A foul on Clay gave the hosts a free kick inside the Torquay half but Nsiala could not beat Rice with his header from Neilson’s delivery, as the keeper dived to make a good save.
That proved to be the start of a period of home pressure which saw Neilson and John-Lewis both crowded out as they aimed to shoot from inside the box, before Hannah fired over the bar after cutting in from the right.
A free kick given for a handball led to Bignot’s header being deflected away for a corner but again, the Mariners were unable to do any significant damage from the flag.
Josh Wakefield replaced Chapell for the visitors with 71 minutes on the clock.
A good piece of play from the home side soon afterwards saw Neilson combine with Hannah, who beat the offside trap but saw his shot deflected away for a corner.
John-Lewis dragged a shot wide after a cross from Mackreth on the right with 15 minutes left.
The Mariners were now seeing a lot more of the ball, as their visitors looked content to sit back and defend their advantage.
But the hosts were dealt a blow when John-Lewis picked up an injury and was forced off, leaving them to play out the remaining 11 minutes with 10 men after using all of their substitutions.
A rare Torquay attack led to a free kick for a foul by Nsiala but nothing came of it as Young was caught offside.
At that point thought, the Gulls were looking comfortable, as Town were doing most of the attacking without really threatening to get the goal that would set up a grandstand finish.
A run from Neilson on the left led to him shooting from 25 yards but Rice made a relatively simple stop, catching the ball.
Brown then tried a shot from 20 yards but it dropped just wide of the mark.
Krystian Pearce replaced the impressive Ofori-Acheampong for the away side with a minute to go and his time on the pitch was extended when the fourth official signalled four minutes of stoppage time.
Town were still looking to haul themselves back into the game and a cross from Brown on the right was cleared, before Mackreth won a corner on the same side. Neilson’s delivery was cleared.
That proved to be the last opportunity for the Mariners to halve the deficit, as Torquay saw the game out to preserve their clean sheet.
Town are next in action when they visit FC Halifax Town on Tuesday.