GRIMSBY Town got back to winning ways with an excellent victory over play-off-chasing Mansfield Town at Blundell Park.
After four games without a win, the Mariners were sent on their way to three points when Chris Clements opened the scoring against his former club five minutes before the break.
Mansfield put their hosts under pressure at the start of the second half but Town defended well and got their reward when a brilliant individual goal by Calum Dyson doubled their advantage.
And after Tom Bolarinwa was fouled inside the penalty area, Dyson grabbed his second of the game from the spot to make the result safe.
Two changes were made to the Town starting XI after Tuesday’s battling goalless draw at Newport County, with Jamey Osborne coming back into the team in place of Craig Disley and Clements replacing Akwasi Asante.
James McKeown started in goal, with Zak Mills, Shaun Pearson, Danny Collins and Danny Andrew forming the defence.
Bolarinwa, Osborne, Gavin Gunning and Clements were the midfielders, with Sam Jones partnering Dyson in attack.
Disley and Asante were both named on the bench, where they were joined by Ben Davies, Andrew Boyce, Brandon Comley, Adi Yussuf and Luke Maxwell.
Mansfield came to Cleethorpes looking to extend an unbeaten run which has stretched to nine games and taken them into the play-off positions under boss Steve Evans.
Strikers Matt Green and Shaquille Coulthirst would be looking to cause problems for the Grimsby defence.
An early opportunity for the Mariners came when Osborne was fouled in a promising position 30 yards from goal but Clements’ free kick caused no real problems for visiting keeper Jake Keen, who made a comfortable stop.
At the other end, a patient build-up from Mansfield eventually led to a cross for Green but his header was stopped by McKeown.
A sliced clearance by Mills gave the visitors the first corner of the game and after it was taken quickly, it led to another one on the right. It was cleared back to the taker Alex McDonald and his cross was dealt with by the Town defence.
A foul by right-back Hayden White was eventually punished by a yellow card after referee Seb Stockbridge had allowed play to continue as the Mariners counter-attacked through Bolarinwa.
Jones hit a snap-shot just wide of the near post on 13 minutes, before Jones and Dyson linked up well two minutes later in a move that led to a corner after a ricochet in the six-yard box. Pearson won the header from the flag-kick but the ball was cleared before it could reach Bolarinwa and Andrew’s shot from distance then flashed wide.
Andrew had to clear after good work by Alfie Potter looked to have produced an opening for McDonald, before a foul by Osborne gave Mansfield a free kick on the halfway line, which was also dealt with by the Mariners.
A good cross-field ball from Osborne found Andrew on the Town left on 23 minutes and the left-back tried to pick out Dyson with a cross but Kean got to it first and claimed a catch.
Soon afterwards, a foul on Coulthirst gave the away side a free kick on the right but McDonald’s delivery was headed away by Pearson and Jones set off on a run that was stopped just inside the Mansfield half.
A good chance then came for the visitors when a cross from Ben Whiteman fell for Green but he could not apply the finish from close range as his header was easy for McKeown.
The Mariners created an opportunity of their own on 27 minutes when Bolarinwa did well to turn and run into the box. He pulled the ball back for Dyson but the Everton loanee could only scoop his shot well over the bar and onto the roof of the Osmond Stand.
Andrew did well to keep the ball in play after a cross from Bolarinwa beat everybody but his return ball into the penalty area was cleared as Town struggled to create danger.
They had another opportunity to put pressure on the Mansfield defence with a long throw from Andrew on the left, which was cleared for another. This time, the visitors could not clear their lines and Town kept possession until a shot from Osborne was pushed away by Kean.
Town were using the long throws to good effect, looking to win headers at the near-post for others to others to run onto, but the away defence stood up well to the threat.
A Mansfield free kick from near the centre circle came to nothing on 37 minutes, before a foul on Dyson three minutes later earned Whiteman a yellow card.
The resulting free kick eventually led to the game’s opening goal, as Clements’ free kick was not properly dealt with by the visiting defence and after a header from Bolarinwa was brilliantly blocked, the ball ricocheted around until CLEMENTS forced it into the net at the far post to score against his old club.
Mansfield went in search of an equaliser before the break and a cross from Coulthirst on the left led to Green getting a glancing header that was caught by McKeown, although the flag had gone up against the striker in any case.
A shot by Gunning from 25 yards went straight at keeper Kean after good work by Osborne on the Town left just before the game moved into two minutes of added time.
And with no further chances created by either side before the referee’s half-time whistle, the Mariners retained their single-goal advantage at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and an early foul by Clements gave the away side the first opportunity to attack, although the free kick beat everybody at the far post and Gunning cleared for a throw-in.
A chance for the Mariners came when Osborne chipped a pass through for Jones and the ball was missed by keeper Kean but Jones could not profit as his shot was cleared for a corner.
At the other end, a good build-up by the visitors down the right led to a cross coming in for Coulthirst but his header was clawed out of the air and stopped on the line by the diving McKeown.
A foul by Pearson on Coulthirst earned the Town defender a booking on 55 minutes but the free kick from just inside the home half was headed clear by Gunning for a throw-in.
The pressure continued from the throw as Mansfield once again got the ball into the Town box, although Whiteman’s header was comfortable for McKeown.
The visitors made a double substitution a minute before the hour, with Green and Potter going off to be replaced by Yoann Arquin and Joel Byrom.
But it was not to have an immediate impact as the Mariners doubled their lead soon afterwards with a superb individual goal. Bolarinwa broke over the halfway line and found DYSON on the right, who cut inside, worked an opening and curled a shot past Kean and into the far corner of the net for 2-0.
After coming under pressure in the early stages of the half, it was the hosts who were the ones doing most of the attacking in the minutes after their second goal.
A Mansfield corner was comfortably dealt with by the Mariners, before the visitors’ third and final substitution saw Chris Hamilton come on in place of McDonald.
Gunning was booked for a foul on the Mansfield right and before the free kick could be taken, away boss Evans was sent to the stands after the fourth official drew the referee’s attention to him. The away side were also reduced to 10 men on the pitch, as White was shown a second yellow card.
The free kick and a corner soon afterwards were both dealt with by the home defence and soon afterwards, the Mariners were given the opportunity to put the result beyond doubt when Bolarinwa was brought down inside the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. DYSON stepped up to power the spot-kick into the net and make it 3-0.
Town were now in complete control, although a good block from Collins was needed to deny Coulthirst after the striker had taken advantage of a mistake to make his way into the penalty area.
Bolarinwa sent a shot off-target from the edge of the box with 11 minutes to go, before a double substitution three minutes later saw Comley replace Osborne and Maxwell make his first appearance since signing on loan from Birmingham City as he came on for Gunning.
The final change saw Yussuf come on for Bolarinwa for the remainder of the game, which was to include four added minutes.
Mansfield had a late opportunity to pull a goal back through substitute Arquin but his shot from close range was straight at McKeown.
The remainder of the additional time then passed without incident, meaning the Mariners were able to celebrate a clean sheet as well as three goals and most importantly, three points.
Town are next in action when they travel to Morecambe on Saturday.