.GRIMSBY Town moved up to second place in the Blue Square Bet Premier table with a convincing win over Woking at Blundell Park
Two brilliant free kicks from the returning Sam Hatton, in for Bradley Wood at right-back, were among the highlights of what was a dominant Town performance.
The Mariners had gone behind early in the game when former Grimsby loanee Dean Sinclair opened the scoring for the visitors.
Hatton’s first goal restored parity, before skipper Craig Disley and Andi Thanoj put the hosts in control before half-time.
Woking were reduced to 10 men when midfielder Lee Sawyer was sent off for two bookable offences, before Hatton’s second goal and a late fifth from Andy Cook added extra gloss to the scoreline.
Hatton’s inclusion was one of two changes to the Town side that lost at Hyde in midweek.
The other alteration saw Thanoj keep his place in the centre of midfield after replacing Derek Niven during the first half of the game at Ewen Fields.
James McKeown began in goal, with Hatton, Shaun Pearson, Nathan Pond and Aswad Thomas forming the defence.
Joe Colbeck started on the right of midfield, with Disley, Thanoj and Marcus Marshall, making his home debut after two away games since signing on loan from Bury, making up the quartet.
Cook was again preferred to partner Ross Hannah in attack, meaning there was no place in the matchday squad for Anthony Elding after he was also left out for the trip to Cheshire.
Wood was also an absentee from the squad, while Niven was named on the bench, alongside Ian Miller, Frankie Artus, Greg Pearson and Dayle Southwell.
Woking made the long journey north with a familiar name in their starting XI in Sinclair, who had three separate loan spells in Cleethorpes.
The former Charlton midfielder joined ex-Fulham winger Kevin Betsy as part of a five-man midfield, leaving lone striker Bradley Bubb to lead the line.
Town kicked off but the visitors were ahead with their first chance of the game. Bubb started a slick passing move that saw the home defence carved open, as Gavin McCallum squared for SINCLAIR to take his time and side-foot past McKeown at the far post.
Less than three minutes were on the clock and as they had done on Tuesday, the Mariners had conceded an early goal.
Woking had started well and they continued to control the early stages, before Colbeck failed to control a long, cross-field pass from Hatton as Grimsby attacked for the first time.
Hannah was bundled over by midfielder Mark Ricketts after controlling a high through-ball on 10 minutes. The offender was booked and from the resulting free kick, the hosts were level, as HATTON smashed the ball through the Woking wall and into the bottom corner of the net.
A free kick from McCallum on the Woking right was cleared as the visitors looked to snatch their advantage back, before Ricketts hit a wild shot well over the bar from 35 yards.
A neat move down the Town left led to the home side’s first corner of the game when a Thomas cross was headed behind but Marshall’s kick was cleared.
Sawyer was the next Woking name into the referee’s notebook, also for a foul on Hannah, before Niven replaced Colbeck as Town made the first substitution with 16 minutes on the clock.
Colbeck seemed to be feeling the effects of a knock he had picked up in a challenge early in the game, while Niven’s presence would help contain a lively Woking midfield.
The Mariners were in front soon afterwards, when a flick by Cook sent the ball through for the onrushing DISLEY, who kept his composure to superbly bend the ball past keeper Aaron Howe from 20 yards.
Betsy pulled a shot well wide of McKeown’s goal on 21 minutes, while a low cross from the winger three minutes later was hacked away by Pearson.
Sawyer was penalised for a foul on Disley on 25 minutes and the resulting free kick led to Marshall winning a corner on the left. Marshall’s near-post delivery was poor but Woking failed to fully clear their lines and a cross from the left had to be headed behind by Brett Johnson, who got to the ball ahead of Hannah.
After an uncertain start, the Mariners were now creating much more danger, although the visitors were still looking threatening in attack, with Bubb’s whipped cross from the right eventually put wide for a goal kick at the far post.
Bubb was spoken to by referee Seb Stockbridge after an off-the-ball foul on Pearson, before a cross from Thomas on the left had to be headed behind for another corner, this time on the right.
Thanoj took the kick and it was met by the head of Pearson but the ball dropped wide of the far post and the Grimsby lead remained at one goal.
That was not to remain the case for long though, as the Mariners scored a third goal on 34 minutes.
Marshall beat the offside trap to get onto a ball from Cook on the left and he squared for Hannah, whose shot was parried by Howe. THANOJ made no mistake from the rebound though, despite the best efforts of left-back Mike Cestor on the line.
Hatton almost made it 4-1 four minutes later, striking a first-time shot from the edge of the box that flew into the side netting.
The Mariners were looking comfortable as the interval approached, controlling possession and with their opponents unable to create any significant problems for McKeown and his defence.
McCallum had a shot blocked by Niven at the start of two added minutes played at the end of the half, before a Woking corner also failed to trouble McKeown.
That meant the scoreline remained at 3-1 going into half-time, which reflected the home side’s dominance after Woking had the better of the opening exchanges.
No changes were made by either side before the restart and Town’s first attack of the second half came four minutes in, with Disley and Pond playing a one-two that sent the defender through down the left, although his cross was headed away by Cestor.
Woking were reduced to 10 men on 51 minutes, when Sawyer picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Thomas on the Town left.
Pearson was booked for a foul on Betsy on the halfway line soon afterwards, before Hannah was brought down inside the Woking half to bring about a free kick that led to Pearson hooking a shot over the bar after Marshall’s pass.
A low cross from McCallum was then comfortably taken by McKeown as the visitors looked for a way back into the game.
A solo effort from Betsy, who had been the away side’s main threat all game, then threatened to cut the deficit to one goal but his fierce drive flew just over the bar.
At the other end, Cook had a chance just after the hour but keeper Howe got down to stop the shot at his near post.
Hannah was replaced by Southwell with 68 minutes gone and the Mariners still looking in complete control of the game.
A foul by Pearson gave the visitors a free kick in a central position, 30 yards out but Joe McNerney hammered his shot wide.
Thomas then had to head behind for a Woking corner, which was dealt with by Thanoj. Town broke down the left and Marshall was eventually fouled as he looked to shoot from 20 yards.
The free kick led to Grimsby’s fourth goal and again, it was HATTON who struck it, sending the ball over the Woking wall and into the top corner for his second of the afternoon.
Bubb hit the post with a 20-yard shot as the away side looked for an instant reply but McKeown recovered to get to the rebound.
Another foul on Marshall saw Bubb yellow-carded and Hatton stepped up again to hit another superb free kick, although this time, his shot went just wide of the mark.
A triple substitution by Woking boss Garry Hill brought Adam Doyle, Loick Pires and Jack Parkinson onto the pitch with 10 minutes to go.
Cook had a shot saved by Howe after Thanoj had sent Southwell through down the right on 84 minutes and the substitute squared for his strike partner but the keeper made the block.
Marshall also had a shot blocked by Howe, before COOK made it 5-1 as the game moved into stoppage time, tucking the ball past the keeper for a deserved goal.
That proved to be the last goal, although the rampant Mariners kept pressing for a sixth during the four added minutes.
Town are next in action when they face Braintree Town at Blundell Park on Saturday.