GRIMSBY Town registered a big away victory against Southport at Haig Avenue.
After three consecutive draws, the Mariners got back to winning ways and put four goals past their struggling hosts.
Southport had the better of the early stages but Town took the lead through Craig Clay on 18 minutes.
Craig Disley made it 2-0 on the half-hour and Jon-Paul Pittman added a third to leave Grimsby in complete control at the break.
Josh Gowling grabbed a fourth goal just after half-time and with Southport rarely threatening for the rest of the match, Town also ensured a second consecutive clean sheet as they extended their unbeaten run to six games
Paul Hurst made two changes to his team after the goalless draw at Wrexham in midweek.
Toto Nsiala missed out on starting against his former club as Shaun Pearson was preferred in the centre of defence, while Pittman came in for Omar Bogle in attack.
James McKeown started in goal, with Danny East, Pearson, Gowling and Gregor Robertson forming the defence.
Jack Mackreth, Disley, Clay and Andy Monkhouse made up the midfield, with Ben Tomlinson selected alongside Pittman up front.
Bogle and Nsiala were both named on the bench, alongside Richard Tait, Padraig Amond and Marcus Marshall.
Southport were looking to improve on a record that had seen them taste victory just once so far this season and in the process, move themselves away from the National League relegation zone.
Paul Rutherford had the first shot for the home side on three minutes but his attempt was blocked by Pearson.
Rutherford then beat Gowling and got a cross in four minutes later, which Clay had to clear for a corner. Pearson headed the kick away, before Gary Jones’ return cross was dealt with in a similar way by Gowling.
A foul by East led to a home free kick but Jones’ shot was gathered by McKeown at the second attempt.
Almond beat East to get into the Town box as Southport’s promising start continued, with the Mariners yet to make an attacking impression as the 10-minute mark passed.
Another run by Almond took him past East and Gowling but Disley managed to get a tackle in as the attacker looked to shoot.
A cross from Clay was caught by home keeper Jonathan Viscosi on the quarter-hour, before a free kick two minutes later gave them another chance to attack. Mackreth took it and after the ball initially fell for Pearson, it was half-cleared for CLAY to loop a shot into the top corner of the net from 20 yards.
McKeown managed to prevent a corner at the other end as Southport looked for an immediate reply.
But Town had improved after the hosts’ good start and they had another corner on 20 minutes, which was cleared. Grimsby retained possession though and they brought the ball back forward in a move that ended with Viscosi saving a shot by Mackreth.
A free kick given against Tomlinson gave Southport an opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone and after Jones’ delivery, McKeown managed to deny striker Cole Stockton from close range.
Another free kick was half-cleared by Gowling as the home side continued to attack in search of an equalising goal.
At the other end, Viscosi was called into action on 28 minutes, diving full-length to save a shot by Tomlinson, at the expense of a corner.
Soon afterwards, the travelling supporters were celebrating as the Mariners doubled their lead. From the corner, Town kept possession and when Mackreth eventually crossed towards the far post, DISLEY was there to head past the keeper for 2-0.
And it got even better for Grimsby on 34 minutes, when a cross from Robertson to the near post was met by PITTMAN, who beat his marker to the ball and directed a header into the net.
Pittman, who had been booked earlier in the game for a late challenge on Ben Davies, was given a final warning by the referee after catching defender Andrew Wright with a high boot six minutes before the break.
Tomlinson was also shown a yellow card for a foul on 43 minutes and after two additional minutes were played at the end of the half, the teams went into the dressing rooms with the Mariners 3-0 up and in control of the game.
Jamie Allen replaced Matty Challoner for the hosts before the restart but within a minute, Town had stretched their lead further. A free kick for a foul on Mackreth was chased down by Pearson and after he turned and chipped the ball to the far post, GOWLING was there to head it in and make it 4-0.
Tomlinson fired a half-volley over the bar, before a shot from Rutherford at the other end was blocked for a corner by Disley.
Almond then hit a dipping effort that cleared McKeown’s crossbar as the hosts looked for what, by now, would surely be no more than a consolation goal.
Pittman looked to have a chance when Josh Thompson slipped but the striker was unable to take advantage.
Town, now completely in control, kept attacking in search of a fifth goal and they had another opportunity to put pressure on the home goal with a free kick on the hour that was eventually cleared by Gary Jones.
Bogle came on in place of Pittman soon afterwards, before a shot by Mackreth from outside the penalty area was saved.
A foul by Gowling gave the home side a free kick on the edge of the Town box on 67 minutes but McKeown was not called into action from it, as Gary Jones shot wide from Almond’s delivery.
Marshall replaced Monkhouse in Grimsby’s second substitution, before a cross from Robertson was caught by keeper Viscosi.
A home corner led to substitute Allen having a shot blocked from the edge of the box on 74 minutes.
Tait then replaced Mackreth in Town’s final substitution, with East moving to a more advanced position on the right of midfield.
Almond sent a shot over the bar for the hosts, then Marshall was booked for catching Gary Jones in the face with his arm.
Courtney Cameron replaced Stockton up front for Southport for the last few minutes of the game, before a Town corner was caught by Viscosi.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the game and there was still time for things to get worse for Southport, as they were reduced to 10 men. Gary Jones fouled Clay and then kicked the ball at him, with the referee producing a straight red card.
Town comfortably saw out the rest of the game before celebrating their win. They are next in action on Saturday, when league leaders Forest Green Rovers are the visitors to Blundell Park.