GRIMSBY Town took a giant stride towards confirming their play-off place by beating Woking at the Kingfield Stadium.
Mariners striker Padraig Amond marked his return to the side after missing Saturday’s draw at Dover by hitting a hat-trick to seal the points.
In a dominant Town first-half performance, Amond opened the scoring on the quarter-hour and the visitors had chances to add to their score before the interval.
But they had to wait until the hour mark for their leading scorer to double the advantage, before Bruno Andrade pulled one back for the home side.
Woking put pressure on the Town defence as they looked to earn an unlikely point but Amond’s third of the game – and 30th in the league this season - five minutes from time made sure of the win.
Two changes were made to the Town line-up after the 1-1 draw in Kent on Saturday, with Amond replacing Jon-Paul Pittman and Danny East coming in for Craig Clay.
James McKeown started in goal, with Richard Tait, Toto Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Evan Horwood forming the defence.
East began on the right of midfield, with Craig Disley, Jon Nolan and Andy Monkhouse completing the central quartet.
Amond was partnered by Omar Bogle in attack, with Clay, Shaun Pearson, Pittman, Ryan Jennings and Pat Hoban all named on the bench.
Woking came into the game after recording a 2-1 away win at second placed Forest Green Rovers on Saturday and manager Garry Hill named an unchanged team for the visit of the Mariners.
The hosts had little to play for in terms of league position, while Town knew a win could all-but confirm their play-off place.
Town started promisingly, having much of the early possession, and they won a free kick on six minutes, although Nolan’s ball into the penalty area beat everybody.
Bogle was the first to test home keeper Jake Cole with a shot from distance two minutes later but after the ball bounced up in front of the stopper, he managed to get it away from danger.
A cross from Bogle on the left was headed away before it could reach Amond as Town continued to look for an early breakthrough.
And it came on 15 minutes, when a good move by the Mariners eventually saw Monkhouse find AMOND, who turned on the edge of the box and fired past Cole to open the scoring.
Town immediately went in search of a second goal and Amond linked up with strike-partner Bogle but the shot from the former Solihull man was saved.
A late challenge on Danny Carr by East gave the hosts a free kick on 21 minutes and from it, they went close to levelling the scores when centre-back Cameron Norman beat McKeown but saw his shot bounce back off the post and away for a throw-in.
The next attack by Town saw Bogle at the heart of things again, picking up a flick from Amond and playing the ball through for Nolan, although the midfielder could not apply a finish.
The Mariners were pushing for a second goal and Amond and Bogle both had chances to get it around the 25-minute mark but neither could find the net from those opportunities.
Disley almost had a shooting chance near the penalty spot as the away side continued to dominate but the ball was taken away from him by Matt Butcher.
Woking right-back Jake Caprice set off an attack for the home side as the half-hour approached but when the ball was eventually crossed, Tait and Nsiala did enough to put Carr off his header.
A stoppage then came when Tait had to be treated after a clash of heads but he was passed fit to continue with a bandage wrapped around his head.
More good work by Bogle then saw him get the ball to Monkhouse and his shot ricocheted back off him but bounced to safety from the home side’s point of view.
A cross by Norman was dealt with by Nsiala and Town countered with a move that saw them keep possession in an attacking area until they were eventually forced to go back, with the ball ending up with McKeown.
Town won a corner 10 minutes before the break after Bogle was tackled. Nolan’s ball was half-cleared but it came out to Amond, who sent a volley through to keeper Cole.
Another corner came when left-back Chris Arthur needlessly put the ball out soon afterwards. Bogle headed high and wide from the flag-kick.
Andrade’s cross at the other end on 41 minutes was headed away by Monkhouse and soon afterwards, Town were on the attack again when shots by Bogle and Monkhouse were blocked before the ball was cleared for a corner before Amond could get to it.
Bogle fired over the bar after Town created another good chance when their opponents gave the ball away on the halfway line two minutes later.
A foul by Disley gave the hosts a free kick just inside the Grimsby half soon afterwards but Andrade’s ball from the left led to an offside decision.
A low cross into the Town box then fell for Keiran Murtagh but he could not capitalise on it and the ball went through to McKeown.
One added minute was signalled at the end of the half and Bogle had another opportunity in that extra period but he could not find the net with his low, left-footed effort from the edge of the box.
That meant Town went in at half-time one goal up after a dominant display and they would look to increase their advantage after the break, while aiming to keep things tight at the other end of the pitch.
No changes were made before the restart and Town won the first corner of the second half through East four minutes in. They could not profit from the flag though, as Nolan’s ball landed on the roof of the net.
At the other end, a cross from Caprice was dropped by McKeown but the keeper recovered to get to the ball ahead of Murtagh.
Bogle then caused more problems when he got the ball on the edge of the box and fizzed a left-footed shot that Cole couldn’t hold, although he got to the rebound ahead of Amond.
A low shot by Norman was deflected out for a Woking corner on 56 minutes but the home side could not trouble McKeown from it, as Brian Saah volleyed over the bar.
The first substitution of the game came seconds later and saw Giuseppe Sole replace Carr in the hosts’ attack.
Andrade missed the target with an attempt from distance as Woking kept looking for a way back into the game, before a Caprice cross beat everybody, as did one from Butcher on the opposite flank.
At the other end, Monkhouse headed wide after a move involving Tait and Nolan.
But the next time Town attacked, they finally got their second goal. Good hold-up play from Bogle led to Disley playing the ball through for AMOND, who made no mistake with a cool finish.
Joey Jones came on for Butcher in Woking’s second substitution, before a home attack through Caprice was thwarted by Nsiala.
A Caprice corner led to the referee blowing his whistle after Norman fell to the ground but after he instantly got up, a drop-ball was given and Gowling cleared.
But the hosts were back in the game on 72 minutes when Sole tried an overhead kick and after the ball broke for ANDRADE, he put it into the net to make it 2-1.
Town were on the back foot again when Caprice beat Horwood and put a cross in towards the six-yard box but Nsiala got it away for a corner as Sole looked to pounce.
Andrade let fly with a long-range shot that was dealt with by McKeown at the second attempt with 11 minutes left to play.
Nolan then sent a volley over the bar for Town after a cross from Horwood on the left, as the Mariners looked to get their two-goal advantage back and settle any nerves.
But it was Woking who were now on top and they won a corner through Andrade on 81 minutes. The initial delivery was punched clear by McKeown and Andrade’s follow-up cross went out for a goal kick.
Amond headed the ball out for a goal kick after a cross by East, before a quickly-taken Woking free kick started another attack for them which ended when Tait took the ball off Andrade.
Town had been forced to absorb plenty of home pressure but the nerves of the 233 away fans were put at ease with five minutes to go when they made it 3-1. Again, it was that man AMOND who got on the scoresheet, getting in behind the home defence to meet a long ball from Tait and calmly finish past Cole for his 30th league goal of the season.
Godfrey Poku replaced Norman for Woking, before Amond made way for Pittman for the Mariners as the game moved into three minutes of added time.
Bogle looked to have a chance to make it 4-1 when he got in behind the home defence but the offside flag went up against the striker.
Pearson came on for the final few seconds before the full-time whistle marked the end of a job well done for Town.
Their win moved them back up to third in the National League table with two games to go and means they now need just one more point from their two remaining games to guarantee a play-off place.
They will look to secure that place and maintain third place by recording another positive result when Chester visit Blundell Park on Saturday