GRIMSBY Town’s long unbeaten run was brought to an end as a late goal secured victory for Macclesfield Town at Blundell Park.
The away side had the better of the first half and went in 2-0 up at the interval after goals from Scott Boden and Chris Holroyd put them in control of the game.
But the Mariners launched a stirring comeback after the break and by the hour, they had fought back to level the scores, with Chris Doig's header adding to a Steve Williams own goal.
The momentum appeared to be with the hosts as keeper James McKeown saved a Holroyd penalty.
But with time running out, left back Daniel Andrew struck with a superb free kick to snatch all three points for the visitors and end Town’s sequence of 14 games without a defeat.
Three changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI after the derby victory at Lincoln City, with Scott Kerr dropping out after picking up an injury in the first half of that game.
He was replaced by Patrick McLaughlin, while Joe Colbeck came in for Scott Neilson and Andy Cook replaced Lenell John-Lewis.
James McKeown began in goal, with Sam Hatton, Shaun Pearson, Doig and Aswad Thomas forming the defence.
Colbeck, Craig Disley, McLaughlin and Alex Rodman were the midfielders, with Cook and Ross Hannah starting in attack.
Neilson and John-Lewis were both named on the bench, alongside AndI Thanoj, Dayle Southwell and Paul Walker.
Macclesfield’s danger men were likely to be wingers Jack Mackreth and former Town loanee Peter Winn, although they had struggled for goals since an injury to striker Connor Jennings forced him to move back to parent club Scunthorpe United.
The Mariners won the first corner of the game on two minutes but McLaughlin’s delivery was cleared by defender Joe Connor.
Andrew overlapped and crossed as the visitors launched their first attack of the game two minutes later but his ball was too strong and went out of play for a goal kick.
Steve Williams fouled Rodman to give Town a free kick on the left but Hatton’s delivery was headed clear.
The opening goal came on eight minutes and it went to the away side, as a low cross from Mackreth was converted by BODEN from inside the penalty area.
A cross from the right was blocked for a Town corner and McLaughlin’s kick was met by Pearson but his header was deflected out for another corner. This time, the ball was half-cleared and the hosts worked it back for Colbeck to eventually head wide.
A good shot from Winn was tipped over the bar by McKeown on 13 minutes and Mackreth’s resulting corner eventually led to Andrew shooting just wide with the keeper beaten.
Since the goal, Macclesfield had been the better side, with Town struggling to make an impact in their opponents’ half of the field.
A free kick for handball against Mackreth was driven towards the penalty spot by Hatton but the offside flag went up as Pearson attempted to meet it ahead of keeper Taylor.
Town were to go further behind seconds later though, when striker HOLROYD produced an excellent goal, taking the ball on the edge of the box and firing past McKeown and into the bottom corner of the net.
Rodman beat his man down the left and advanced into the box on 24 minutes but he overran the ball and it went out for a goal kick.
Hannah was bundled over by Williams on the right soon afterwards and McLaughlin’s free kick was headed on by Cook before Pearson’s header was taken by keeper Rhys Taylor.
Town were still causing few problems for the Macclesfield defence, although a Hatton long throw broke for Disley just after the half-hour but he hooked his shot over the bar.
Colbeck won a corner on the right on 35 minutes but it was cleared and Pearson was later booked for a shirt-pull after referee Richard Wigglesworth had allowed play to continue with the visitors retaining possession.
A Hatton free kick from near the halfway line was dealt with by the away side, who were looking comfortable as half-time approached.
A better opportunity almost came when Colbeck hit a low cross from the right but keeper Taylor got to it ahead of Cook.
Two added minutes were played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side, Macclesfield retained their two-goal advantage at the break.
The visitors had been the better of the two teams and Town would need to improve after the interval to be in with a chance of keeping their long unbeaten run going.
No changes were made before the restart and the visitors had the first chance of the second half when a driven ball from Andrew found Boden but he volleyed over the bar.
A foul on Thomas gave Town a free kick on the left but Cook’s glancing header bounced wide after Hatton sent the ball into the box.
Colbeck won a free kick on the opposite side of the pitch seven minutes in but Pearson’s header from Hatton’s delivery went past the post for a goal kick.
Hatton then won a corner as Town began to put pressure on the Macclesfield goal and from it, they had their way back into the game, when the ball was cleared to McLaughlin and his driven cross was diverted into the net by WILLIAMS for an own goal at the near post.
The Grimsby revival continued when a Thomas cross from the left was deflected behind for a corner. It was half-cleared but Pearson battled well to win another corner, which was headed behind for a third in quick succession. This time, McLaughlin’s kick was met by the head of DOIG, who made it 2-2 from close range.
Neilson replaced Rodman as Town boss Paul Hurst made his first tactical move of the afternoon.
After doing the hard work to haul themselves level, the Mariners gave Macclesfield a golden chance to reclaim their advantage when Holroyd was brought down inside the box by Cook. The striker got up to take the resulting penalty himself but his spot-kick was saved by McKeown, who dived to his left to keep it out.
John-Lewis and Southwell came on for Cook and Hannah up front for Grimsby with just under 20 minutes left to play.
Holroyd and Winn were then replaced by John-Paul Kissock and Paul Lewis for the visitors on 75 minutes, just before Danny Whitaker fired a shot well over the bar from 20 yards.
Lewis almost put his side back ahead when he was found on the edge of the box by Mackreth but his first-time shot was tipped over the bar by McKeown.
Southwell won a corner after McLaughlin had sent him away down the right with 10 minutes to go and after the ball was cleared back to the former York midfielder, he crossed for Pearson to glance a header which Taylor saved.
A foul by Thomas gave Macclesfield a free kick on the right on 82 minutes and from it, ANDREW put the visitors back ahead with a superb shot into the top corner which gave McKeown no chance.
Whitaker was booked for time wasting at a Macclesfield corner, before Kissock was also yellow-carded for delaying the taking of a Town free kick.
Five added minutes were played at the end of the game but Town could not find a way through and the away side closed out the game to collect maximum points.
The Mariners must now look for an instant return to winning ways when they entertain Lincoln City on New Year’s Day.