GRIMSBY Town kept up the pressure on the National League’s top two with a comfortable home win over relegation-threatened Altrincham.
The Mariners were in control throughout the game, having taken the lead through Andy Monkhouse with their first real attack.
Omar Bogle doubled the hosts’ advantage, before Monkhouse’s second goal of the game made it 3-0 in the early stages of the second half.
Padraig Amond then got in on the act, netting Town’s fourth of the afternoon to take his tally to 25 for the season and ensure he appeared on the scoresheet for the seventh consecutive league game.
And Nathan Arnold rounded off the scoring with a fifth goal in the closing stages of the match.
The result saw Grimsby close the gap to six points between themselves and new league-leaders Forest Green Rovers, ahead of now-second-placed Cheltenham Town’s game at Dover tomorrow.
Town were unchanged from their previous league game, which was the 4-0 success at Welling United on January 9.
That meant Shaun Pearson, Danny East, Conor Henderson, Josh Venney, Marcus Marshall and Jon-Paul Pittman were all taken back out of the XI, having started last week’s FA Trophy win against Weston-Super-Mare.
James McKeown started in goal, with Richard Tait, Toto Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Gregor Robertson forming the defence.
Arnold, Craig Disley, Craig Clay and Monkhouse were the midfielders, with Bogle partnering Amond in attack.
Pearson, Marshall, Pittman and Henderson were all handed places on the substitutes’ bench, alongside new signing Jon Nolan.
Altrincham were looking to extend a record that had left them unbeaten against the Mariners in each of the previous five meetings between the clubs.
They were also hoping that in doing so, they would be able to move out of the National League relegation zone.
The Mariners took the lead from their first real attack of the game, as a ball from the right was helped on by Arnold to MONKHOUSE, who slotted past visiting keeper Tim Deasy to open the scoring with two minutes on the clock.
At the other end, a low cross from winger Josh Ginnelly found its way through to McKeown as Altrincham looked for an instant reply.
Town had very quickly established control of the contest and were looking to play patient, possession football, while their opponents had shown very little early threat.
The next home attack of note came on 12 minutes, when Bogle picked the ball up on the right and cut into the box but fired a powerful shot high over the bar.
A foul on Bogle two minutes later gave Grimsby a free kick around 35 yards from goal and Arnold’s chip from it was headed on by Bogle but the ball was then caught by Deasy.
Amond was the next to win a free kick when he was fouled on the left by Sam Heathcote and from it, the Mariners doubled their lead. Arnold’s driven ball to the far post fell perfectly for BOGLE, who headed it into the net for 2-0.
The celebrations were short-lived though, as Robertson went down injured on 21 minutes and was unable to continue. Shaun Pearson replaced him, with Nsiala moving to right-back as Tait swapped to the left.
A rare forward move by the visitors almost led to a chance for striker Michael Rankine to shoot but instead, he caught Gowling, who had got across to challenge.
Another foul by Rankine on Gowling soon afterwards led to the forward being spoken to by referee Tom Nield, although the official chose to keep his yellow card in his pocket.
A short stoppage came after defender Scott Leather went down injured after a challenge with Bogle in the air, although he was passed fit to continue.
Town were still well in control of the game as the half-hour mark passed, with the hosts dominating possession and territory and looking to extend their lead further before the break.
Bogle hit a shot from the edge of the box that bounced just wide, before an Altrincham free kick from the halfway line was eventually dealt with by the Town defence.
Disley was shown the first yellow card of the game on 35 minutes for a foul on speedy winger Dylan Mottley-Henry, who was looking to break down the right.
Altrincham were now starting to see more of the ball, aided by some needless fouls which were giving them opportunities to get the ball into the box from free kicks.
Another of those free kicks came in from the left on 39 minutes and after Rankine had won the initial header, right-back Jordan Sinnott flashed a shot wide from 20 yards.
Soon afterwards, Amond was put through down the middle but after advancing into the penalty area, he tried to square the ball for Bogle but the away defence recovered to get it clear.
Amond was involved again a minute later, attempting a flick from inside the box, which was blocked. The loose ball fell for Arnold but he could not make it 3-0, instead firing just wide of the near post.
At the other end, a cross from Sinnott was headed out for an Altrincham corner by Pearson but the ball from the flag was eventually cleared by the substitute, who was fouled. Mottley-Henry was booked for the infringement.
A good pass from Amond found Arnold in the last minute of the half but the winger’s powerful effort was saved by keeper Deasy.
Three minutes of added time were then signalled as Amond and midfielder Simon Richman both went down holding their heads after a challenge. Richman came off worse but both were cleared to play on.
Another Altrincham free kick from Sinnott was headed clear, as was a long throw from the right.
A foul on Amond around 35 yards from goal gave the Mariners one more opportunity before half-time but they could not take it, as Arnold’s chipped ball beat everybody and went out for a goal kick.
That meant the home advantage remained at two goals at the halfway point, with Town looking very comfortable and on-course to claim another three points.
James Lawrie replaced Richman for the visitors before the restart and they might have had a shout for a penalty when Ginnelly went down under a challenge from Nsiala three minutes in. The referee waved play on though, with a lack of protests from the Altrincham players suggesting he had made the correct decision.
Sinnott let fly with a shot from 35 yards but McKeown remained untroubled – as he had done all afternoon so far – as the ball flew wide of his goal.
Another foul on Gowling saw Rankine booked, as the referee finally lost patience with the striker.
And soon afterwards, Grimsby’s first attack of note in the half provided their third goal of the afternoon. Amond stood the ball up to the far post and it fell for MONKHOUSE, who scuffed a shot that found its way into the far corner of the net.
Monkhouse fired over the bar from 25 yards as he went looking for the goal that would complete his hat-trick.
Town then won a corner on 62 minutes after Clay had appealed for a handball. The Mariners made it 4-0 from the flag, as Arnold’s delivery to the far post was headed over the line by AMOND for his 25th goal of the season. Altrincham scrambled the ball away but the goal was given.
Nolan was handed a Town debut as he came on for Clay soon after the goal, while Ryan Crowther replaced Mottley-Henry for the visitors at the same time.
Bogle was booked for pulling Adam Griffin back after pushing the ball past the defender, as the referee failed to see the humour in the striker’s actions.
An Altrincham penalty appeal for a handball was then waved away and after play continued, the away side won a corner. From it, Leather was penalised for a high foot against Nsiala.
Soon afterwards, Leather became the latest to see a yellow card, for a foul on Arnold. The winger took the resulting free kick himself but his ball beat everybody and went out for a goal kick.
Henderson replaced Monkhouse with 17 minutes to go and another free kick came in a promising position three minutes later, when Bogle was bundled over on the edge of the box. Bogle’s shot hit the Altrincham wall and went out for a corner, which was cleared.
Josh O’Keefe replaced Rankine for the last 10 minutes as the visitors completed the substitutions, before Arnold shot just wide after a good build-up by the Mariners.
A shot from Lawrie was deflected harmlessly through to McKeown with six minutes to go, as the away side looked for a consolation goal.
And they came closer to it when a free kick from the right was headed by Heathcote but the ball bounced off the top of the bar and went out for a goal kick.
Bogle forces keeper Deasy into a save with a powerful drive from the right side of the penalty area. The resulting corner was half-cleared but when it landed at the feet of ARNOLD, he smashed it into the top corner to make it 5-0.
Four added minutes were signalled and Town went in search of a sixth goal but as the referee’s whistle ended the game, they would have been more than happy with five, as well as the clean sheet which put the icing on an excellent team performance.
The Mariners were finally able to celebrate a victory over Altrincham at the sixth attempt and in the process, made it eight wins from their last nine league games.
They are next in action on Saturday, when they visit Gateshead.