GRIMSBY Town produced a fantastic team performance to beat 10-man Lincoln City in a pulsating Lincolnshire derby at Blundell Park.
After a quiet opening in front of a packed crowd of 7,650, the game exploded into life when Padraig Amond opened the scoring to register his 20th goal of the season.
Lincoln were a man down as well as a goal down when defender Luke Waterfall was shown the red card for hauling Amond down near the edge of the box.
The visitors showed few genuine signs of getting back on level terms as Town dominated the second half and the men in black and white got their reward when Nathan Arnold struck to seal the points.
The Grimsby starting XI was unchanged from the last-minute win over Dover Athletic in the previous league game, as those who sat out the FA Trophy success at Solihull were all restored to the team.
James McKeown started in goal, behind a back four of Richard Tait, Toto Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Conor Townsend.
Arnold began on the right of midfield, with Craig Disley and Craig Clay in the centre and Andy Monkhouse on the left.
That left Omar Bogle and Amond as the strikers, while Gregor Robertson, Shaun Pearson, Jon-Paul Pittman, Marcus Marshall and Conor Henderson were all listed as substitutes.
For Lincoln, big striker Matt Rhead was likely to provide the main goal threat, while former Town defender Bradley Wood was also included in manager Chris Moyses’ team, albeit in a midfield role.
Alan Power and Lee Beevers were restored to the starting XI after the home defeat by Halifax on Boxing Day.
An early long ball by Tait in the direction of Amond was intercepted by Beevers, before a foul by Townsend gave Lincoln a free kick on the halfway line. Beevers launched it into the Grimsby penalty area but the ball was headed clear by Gowling.
A Rhead header was blocked, then Terry Hawkridge won the game’s first corner for the away side, which was cleared.
Arnold let fly with a shot from 25 yards on six minutes but it caused no problems for visiting keeper Paul Farman.
Another Lincoln corner came when Hawkridge broke down the left after Arnold’s header had fallen for him. From the flag, the ball broke for midfielder Craig Stanley but his shot flew over the Pontoon Stand.
Townsend required treatment after a challenge with Power but was passed fit to continue.
A foul by Stanley on Amond then gave the Mariners a free kick inside the Lincoln half and from it, Arnold’s ball flicked off the head of Stanley towards Amond, who was flagged offside.
A poor challenge by Howe on Bogle gave the hosts another opportunity to attack with a free kick midway inside the Lincoln half on 17 minutes. Townsend drifted it in to Bogle, who knocked the ball down for Nsiala to fire over the bar from 16 yards.
Farman claimed a Monkhouse cross from the left, before Hawkridge beat everybody with a cross at the other end that went out for a goal kick.
The Mariners took the lead with their next attack, when Bogle did well to work an opening on the left and send a cross over for strike partner AMOND to send a brilliant header past Farman and into the net for his 20th goal of the season.
Amond almost had a chance to make it 2-0 on 23 minutes, when Arnold set off on a run down the right and delivered a low cross which looked to be heading towards the Irishman until Beevers made a vital interception.
Lincoln’s response saw Wood win a corner on the right. Tempest’s ball was headed away by Nsiala but the visitors kept possession until a cross from the right was caught by McKeown.
Townsend won a Grimsby corner on the left soon afterwards but the Hull City loanee could not find a team-mate from the flag.
A good chance for an equaliser came on 27 minutes, when Jack Muldoon found himself through on goal. McKeown raced off his line to deal with the danger though, blocking the shot for a corner.
A moment of drama came two minutes later, when Lincoln were reduced to 10 men. Amond won a duel with Waterfall near the edge of the box and after the defender hauled him down, referee Adrian Holmes reached into his back pocket and pulled out the red card. Townsend’s shot from the resulting free kick was saved by Farman.
Town were now well on top and they had another corner when a cross from Arnold was headed behind by Beevers. The Mariners could not make the flag-kick count though, as Gowling was adjudged to have fouled Wood when Townsend sent the ball across.
The away side won the next corner on 35 minutes but it came to nothing, as Callum Howe failed to keep the ball in play after it had been headed on.
Disley was booked for a foul on Hawkridge near the halfway line, with the Lincoln players, staff and supporters calling for the midfielder to be sent off to even the sides up.
Town were looking comfortable as half-time approached, with McKeown untroubled in the home goal.
At the other end, Bogle sent a shot over the bar from the right side of the box as the Mariners continued to attack.
A foul by Clay gave Lincoln a chance to get the ball into the danger zone with a free kick two minutes before the break but Howe’s header from it was straight at McKeown, who made a comfortable catch.
Two added minutes were signalled as the away side won another corner on the right but Gowling headed clear after Howe had initially won the ball.
Town had an opportunity on the break after Amond got forward and looked for Bogle but the striker hesitated and Wood was able to block his shot.
That proved to be the last chance of a half which had gone the way of the Mariners. After an even opening to the contest, Amond’s goal gave the hosts the edge on the scoreboard and Waterfall’s sending off meant Grimsby also went into the dressing rooms with a numerical advantage.
No changes were made before the restart and the first real action of the second half saw a Bogle cross-shot blocked at the edge of the box.
An early corner then came for the home side on the left but Townsend’s ball was headed out by Rhead, with Wood completing the clearance.
Roberton replaced Townsend at left-back on 50 minutes in the first substitution of the game, before Arnold won a corner off Greg Tempest on the right. Town kept possession after Rhead headed the ball back to Arnold and the pressure continued until Monkhouse headed wide.
A good challenge by Gowling halted a Lincoln attack after Rhead pushed the ball through towards Muldoon on 54 minutes, before Tait blocked a cross by Hawkridge.
The next Town attack saw Bogle find Arnold inside the Lincoln box but after being forced wide and with Farman narrowing the angle, the winger could only hit the side-netting.
A spell of Grimsby possession and patient build-up play eventually led to a header by Amond being caught by Farman after a cross by Tait.
At the other end, a free kick from Hawkridge led to a corner for the visitors after Howe’s header was adjudged to have taken a deflection on its way out of play, although the delivery from Hawkridge did not lead to a goalscoring opportunity.
Another free kick was dealt with, before McKeown set up a Town break by throwing the ball to Arnold, who set off on a run through the middle which took him past two defenders and towards goal until he was eventually stopped by Hawkridge.
Power saw a weak 20-yard shot saved by McKeown after good work by Hawkridge as Lincoln kept looking for a way back into the game.
Bogle lifted a powerful shot just over the bar after receiving the ball from Clay on the edge of the penalty area, then another chance almost came when Amond crossed from the right but Bogle got into a tussle with Wood and the defender was given the free kick.
Bogle was fouled by Beevers to give the Mariners a free kick midway inside the away half on 68 minutes but Arnold’s ball was headed away by Howe.
A foul by Gowling on Rhead gave the visitors a chance to pump the ball into the Town box from a free kick but Nsiala was up to the challenge, heading it clear.
At the other end, a clever flick by Bogle almost sent Amond through on goal but he could not keep the ball under control and it went through to Farman.
Soon afterwards, Amond took the ball through and gave it to Clay, whose shot was deflected out for a corner. Nsiala headed wide from the flag-kick.
Hawkridge was replaced by Conner Robinson as Lincoln made their first substitution with 15 minutes to go.
And it signalled the start of a period of Lincoln pressure where for the first time in the game, the Mariners momentarily struggled to clear their lines until McKeown dived on the ball after Muldoon had headed it on inside the six-yard box.
Tait had to win a challenge with Muldoon after Rhead had won a header from a long ball but again, the right-back was equal to the task.
At the other end, Bogle turned onto his left foot and hit a shot that was well blocked by Farman.
Town were not to be kept out though and they had their second goal of the game with a little over 10 minutes left to play. After a goal build-up around the edge of the box, the ball was pushed through to ARNOLD and he finished from a tight angle.
A chance to make it 3-0 came soon afterwards when Amond got the ball on the edge of the box but this time, his chip went just over the bar.
A low cross from the right was put out for a corner as the Mariners poured forward in search of a third goal, although they were unable to make it count.
Robinson smashed a shot into the side-netting for Lincoln with eight minutes to go but the hosts were now completely dominant and Amond had another effort well saved by Farman after a good touch by Bogle had put him through.
Marshall came on for Arnold for the last four minutes, while a double substitution for the visitors introduced Chris Bush and Kegan Everington to the action in place of Beevers and Stanley.
Pittman came on for Bogle as the game moved into five minutes of added time, which the hosts comfortably saw out to ensure a clean sheet was additional reward for an excellent display.
Town are next in action on Saturday, when Guiseley are the visitors to Blundell Park.