GRIMSBY Town were knocked out of the FA Cup in the first round as Oxford United won comfortably at Blundell Park.
A clinical performance from the League Two side saw them take the lead through James Roberts, before the same player doubled their lead ahead of the interval.
Town had started the game well and could have taken the lead when John-Lewis hit the post but instead, they had a mountain to climb in the second half.
And the visitors sealed their passage to the second round when midfielder Danny Rose made it 3-0 six minutes after the restart.
The Mariners did not let their heads drop and they pulled a goal back through Shaun Pearson to start what they hoped would be a late recovery.
But despite their best efforts, they were unable to force their way further back into the game as Oxford saw it out.
Danny Parslow came straight back into the Town starting line-up after rejoining the club on loan from York City earlier in the week.
His inclusion was one of two changes to Paul Hurst’s XI, with Jon-Paul Pittman also coming in as the injured Carl Magnay and the ineligible Harry Pell dropped out.
James McKeown started in goal, with Parslow, Toto Nsiala, Pearson and Aswad Thomas forming the defence.
Jack Mackreth, Craig Disley, Craig Clay and Pittman were the midfielders, with Nathan Arnold alongside Lenell John-Lewis in attack.
The FA Cup’s seven substitutes rule meant Ellis Humble and Paul Walker were given places on the Grimsby bench, along with Paul Bignot, Ross Hannah, Scott Neilson, Chris Doig and Paddy McLaughlin.
Oxford travelled north looking to put their poor league form aside and avoid being knocked out of the cup at the first opportunity.
Michael Appleton’s side have struggled in League Two so far this season but would not want to lose to non-league opposition in the shape of the Mariners.
Top scorer Danny Hylton was suspended, meaning Appleton instead looked to strikers Brian Howard and James Roberts for goals.
An early Thomas cross proved comfortable for visiting keeper Ryan Clarke, before Parslow and Nsiala both had to head crosses away as Oxford attacked for the first time.
John-Lewis was fouled by defender Johnny Mullins to give the Mariners a free kick in a good position left of centre on seven minutes but Mulins beat Thomas to Arnold’s delivery and the visitors broke, winning the first corner on the right.
Mackreth won a corner at the other end after a good move down the left but after it was taken quickly, a back-heeled shot from John-Lewis was blocked.
The first good chance of the game came when Alfie Potter sent a cross over from the Oxford right but Callum O’Dowda could not get enough power on his header to test McKeown.
Town went closer when John-Lewis fizzed a drive from 20 yards which beat Clarke but bounced back off the post.
Mackreth set off on a run down the left on 15 minutes which took him into the penalty area but he could not work an opening to shoot.
Mullins sent a 20-yard shot harmlessly through to McKeown two minutes later, before another good Town move eventually saw Mackreth denied by Clarke, at the expense of a corner.
From the flag, Arnold’s delivery was punched clear by Clarke and the away side broke. Mackreth beat Potter to the ball and passed it back to McKeown but the ball was short and the Town keeper had to race off his line to get to it ahead of the Oxford attacker.
Left-back Tareiq Holmes-Dennis shot wide and O’Dowda had an effort blocked as Oxford looked to force a breakthrough.
They were then given a free kick in a dangerous position on the right but Brian Howard’s ball was headed clear by Disley.
Another free kick, this time further right, was swung in by Howard and for a moment, it looked to have caused some problems as it swerved in the wind but McKeown was able to tip the ball over the bar for a corner. Oxford kept the pressure up when the ball was cleared for a throw-in, then the visitors won another corner seconds later but again, the danger was dealt with as Disley cleared for a throw.
The away side had the advantage of a strong wind blowing towards the Pontoon Stand but Town were competing well and playing some good football when in possession.
Good work by John-Lewis on 34 minutes saw him hold the ball up and beat his man before crossing from deep on the left but it was headed behind for a corner ahead of Pittman.
But when the first goal came a minute later, it was the visitors who took the lead. ROBERTS got to the ball ahead of Pearson and cut in from the left before rifling a shot into the far corner of McKeown’s net.
It could have got worse for the Mariners soon afterwards when they failed to clear a cross from the left but Oxford could not make it count and the ball was eventually scrambled clear.
Right-back Joe Riley then fired wide as the away side’s good spell continued, before a foul on Arnold came as Town looked to build an attack five minutes before the break.
They could not take advantage of the opportunity from the resulting free kick but Oxford certainly did, breaking quickly and catching the Mariners out to double their advantage. A low cross from the left went through to ROBERTS and he showed his quality to slot the ball across McKeown and into the far corner of the net.
After starting the game well, Grimsby now had it all to do if they were to force their way into Monday’s second round draw.
Town’s response to going 2-0 down was good as they attacked in search of a way back into the game before half-time, although a cross from Clay on the right beat everybody and a shot from Thomas went over the Osmond Stand roof.
Two added minutes were signalled by the fourth official and some good pressure by Pittman saw the hosts win a corner on the left. The ball from the flag went through to Mackreth on the right and he won a throw but again, Town could not create anything from it.
That was the last chance of the half and as the half-time whistle blew, Oxford’s two-goal lead saw them in control of the game.
Town had done well for the first part of the half but had been undone twice on the counter-attack and were left staring at an exit from the competition.
No changes were made before the restart and the first chance of the second half came when a good ball from Disley found John-Lewis in space on the edge of the box but he shot wide.
Disley was spoken to by the referee after a foul on Howard and soon afterwards, the game was gone when Oxford stretched their lead further. A good passing move saw the ball go out to the right and when a low cross came in, it fell for ROSE to slam in from 12 yards and make it 3-0.
A penalty appeal came from the home fans when John-Lewis went down inside the penalty area but the referee had other ideas, giving the decision the other way and showing the striker the first yellow card of the afternoon for diving.
A cross from Mackreth on the right was put behind for a corner by Jake Wright and from it, the Mariners kept possession until another Mackreth centre was claimed by keeper Clarke.
Pittman hit a powerful shot high and wide as Town looked to grab a foothold in the game, before the first home substitution saw McLaughlin come on for Disley.
Neilson then replaced Arnold and another home penalty shout came when Pittman went down under what looked like a shoulder challenge but the referee instead pointed for a corner.
A foul by Nsiala on O’Dowda gave Oxford a free kick near the left side of the penalty area and earned the defender a booking. Riley’s delivery across the six-yard line was taken by McKeown.
McLaughlin thought he had been brought down as he looked to craft an opening through the middle but again, the referee allowed play to go on.
The final Grimsby change saw Hannah replace John-Lewis, with Tuesday’s league clash with Halifax now possibly in the minds of the Town management team.
McLaughlin cleared the Oxford bar with a shot from 20 yards, before Jon Meades replaced Riley at right-back for the visitors with 15 minutes to go.
Pitman did well to get a cross in from the left on 78 minutes which was cleared for a corner and a minute later, the Mariners had what looked like a consolation goal when the ball came in from the right and PEARSON was there to hook it into the net.
A second Town goal would set up a grandstand finish and the hosts immediately went in search of it, with Pittman breaking through the middle but not managing to set up a goalscoring opportunity.
Neilson was booked for a foul after over-running the ball and bringing his man down just inside the Oxford half.
An injury to O’Dowda saw him replaced by Tyrone Barnett, while Junior Brown came on for Roberts at the same time.
Five added minutes gave the Mariners more time to continue their recovery and aim to force their way back into the game.
But Oxford were looking to slow the game down and keeper Clarke remained relatively untroubled.
Town kept attacking but they were unable to force the second goal which might have led to a few nerves in the away side.
And as the damage had already been done, Oxford were able to see out the remainder of the game and confirm their place in the draw for round two.
For Grimsby, attention now switches back to the league and the visit of FC Halifax Town to Blundell Park on Tuesday.