GRIMSBY Town were knocked out of the EFL Cup in the first round as Derby County earned a narrow win at the iPro Stadium.
The Mariners, playing their first game in the competition since 2009 and roared on by 1,734 travelling supporters, produced a good performance and contained their Championship opponents for much of the contest.
But Derby eventually found a way through on the hour, with Republic of Ireland international Richard Keogh heading what proved to be the only goal of the game.
Four changes were made to the Town side that beat Morecambe in their League Two opener on Saturday.
As expected, Shaun Pearson came in for the suspended Josh Gowling, while Dominic Vose, Omar Bogle and Ashley Chambers were also handed starts as Kayden Jackson, Tom Bolarinwa and Scott Vernon dropped out of the XI.
James McKeown began in goal, with Ben Davies, Pearson, Andrew Boyce and Danny Andrew forming the back four.
Luke Summerfield, Sean McAllister and James Berrett were the midfielders, with lone striker Bogle supported in attack by Vose and Chambers.
Jackson, Bolarinwa and Vernon were all named on the Grimsby bench, alongside Rhys Browne, Josh Venney, Dan Jones and Andy Warrington.
Derby boss Nigel Pearson named a strong side featuring two former England internationals in Scott Carson and Darren Bent, with the Rams manager also making four changes after their weekend goalless draw with Brighton.
Town began well and got through the opening 10 minutes without coming under serious threat from their Championship hosts, with McKeown only having to claim a comfortable catch from a cross.
A weak effort from Bent on 13 minutes also caused no problems, with the ball going straight through to the Mariners keeper.
Berrett’s back-pass almost presented Bent with a chance two minutes later but McKeown was alert to the danger and raced off his line to beat the striker to the ball.
A short spell of Town possession around the 20-minute mark ended with the hosts breaking and a cross was headed out for a throw-in by Pearson.
At the other end, defender Alex Pearce beat Chambers to a Davies cross as the Mariners looked to cause problems of their own.
Pearce then became the first man to be shown a yellow card after pulling Bogle back near the centre circle on 23 minutes. Davies’ ball from the free kick was cleared.
Johnny Russell fizzed a shot wide for the hosts four minutes later after Vose had given the ball away, before an attempted cross by Bogle at the other end was blocked for a throw-in.
Town were still looking composed as the half-hour passed, restricting their opponents to very few genuine opportunities.
A free kick on 33 minutes gave Derby an opportunity to change that but Craig Forsyth’s header from Russell’s delivery was saved by McKeown.
And the keeper was called into action again soon afterwards when he had to get down to stop an effort from Will Hughes after Chris Martin had headed the ball down.
At the other end, a shot from Berrett deflected off Keogh but Carson was not wrong-footed as he got across to keep it out.
Derby were looking for an opening goal before the break and Nick Blackman was the next to try his luck, hitting a shot that was pushed out for a corner by McKeown.
Another home corner followed on 40 minutes and Russell’s ball to the far post was picked up by Bent, who crossed for Pearce to head just wide.
A Craig Bryson shot was blocked, before a spell of Town possession came as the interval approached.
One added minute was signalled by the fourth official and with no further chances coming for either side before the referee’s whistle blew, it remained goalless at half-time.
No changes were made before the restart and Martin looked to create an early chance for the home side inside the Town penalty area but Boyce was there to win the ball and clear it.
Bent sent a header just wide of the target five minutes in as Derby continued to threaten, before a cross aimed for Martin was put behind for a corner by Andrew. The kick was half-cleared but the ball was worked back for Russell to curl a left-footed shot that was pushed away for another corner by McKeown.
The first substitution of the evening saw Browne replace McAllister in a move which saw Vose switch to a central position as the former Aldershot winger slotted in on the right.
Another home corner came when a cross was dealt with by Pearson but the ball from the flag was hooked over the bar by Bent.
The hosts attacked again soon afterwards, although this time, Martin’s effort was blocked and Town broke through Chambers in a move that eventually led to Bogle seeing a looping header saved by Carson.
The opening goal eventually came on the hour and it went to the hosts, who struck from a free kick. The ball was played to Bryson and his whipped cross was met by skipper KEOGH, who headed home at the far post.
Town responded with a free kick of their own that saw Davies’ delivery headed out for a corner by Keogh, who got to the ball ahead of Pearson. The ball from the flag was dealt with by keeper Carson.
A double substitution by the hosts saw Tom Ince and Jacob Butterfield come on in place of Martin and Blackman.
Bent missed another chance on 71 minutes, then Jackson came on for Vose as the Mariners looked for something different in an attempt to get back into the game.
A free kick from Davies was headed away at one end, then an attempt by Ince narrowly missed the target at the other.
Jeff Hendrick replaced Hughes for the hosts after Bolarinwa had been sent on in place of Chambers in the red of the Mariners.
Bolarinwa’s first contribution of note saw him look for Jackson with a long pass but the ball instead found its way through to Carson in the Derby goal.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the game and Town had an opportunity when Jackson won a corner in the second of those extra minutes.
It turned into another one when Bent beat Summerfield to the ball and from the second flag-kick, the visitors went close to an equaliser when Pearson’s header was saved and Summerfield could not convert the rebound.
Instead, the ball was cleared for another corner and this time McKeown, who had come up to join the attack, almost made himself a hero with a header that Carson just managed to react and get to, turning the ball behind.
That proved to be Grimsby’s last chance of the game as the home side held on to secure their place in the second round.
Town now return to league action when they travel to Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday