Grimsby Town 4 Alfreton Town 2GRIMSBY Town were forced to come from behind but ultimately secured a comfortable victory over Alfreton Town at Blundell Park.
The visitors took the lead from the penalty spot when Richard Brodie, back in the Town starting XI in place of Ross Hannah, brought Scott Boden down and Dan Bradley converted.
Brodie then won a penalty for Jamie Devitt to equalise from the spot, before the striker on loan from Crawley completed the turnaround before half-time with his first goal for the club.
Grimsby looked to have sealed the points when Andy Cook made it 3-1 but substitute Paul Clayton pulled a goal back for the away side.
But any home nerves were calmed ten minutes from time, when skipper Craig Disley got Town’s fourth of the afternoon to ensure they remained at the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier table.
Two changes were made to the Town side that knocked Luton out of the FA Trophy in midweek, with Sam Hatton and Brodie both returning to the starting XI.
Hatton came in at right-back, with Bradley Wood dropping to the bench, while Ross Hannah was the man to miss out up front to make way for Brodie.
James McKeown started in goal, with Hatton, Shaun Pearson, Ian Miller and Aswad Thomas making up the back four.
Marcus Marshall began on the right of midfield, with Andi Thanoj earning another start alongside Disley in the middle and Devitt starting on the left.
Cook kept his place in attack to start alongside Brodie, while Hannah dropped to the bench, where he was joined by Wood, Derek Niven, Joe Colbeck and new signing Lennell John-Lewis.
Alfreton named former Grimsby goalkeeper Phil Barnes and ex-Town defender Darran Kempson in their starting XI.
Ex-Mariners manager Nicky Law would be looking to his three-man strike force of Ben Tomlinson, Scott Boden and Nathan Arnold to provide the firepower to end Grimsby’s long unbeaten run.
Town kicked off attacking the Pontoon Stand end of the ground, playing against a strong wind in the first half.
The visitors produced a lively opening to the game and a mis-directed clearance by Devitt brought the first corner, although the delivery from the left was headed away by Hatton.
Grimsby’s first attack of note came ion the ninth minute and led to Thanoj winning a corner on the right and Marshall’s low delivery was touched on by Pearson before a shot from Cook was eventually cleared.
A foul by Theo Streete on Marshall on the right gave the hosts another chance to get the ball into the box but Devitt’s ball beat everybody, before a foul by Brodie gave Alfreton a chance to clear their lines.
Neither goalkeeper had been called into action at the quarter-hour mark, with both teams struggling to make an impression in the final third of the pitch.
Thomas was fouled by midfielder Matt Harriott to give Town a free kick on the left on 17 minutes and this time, Hatton’s cross to the far post was tipped away for a corner by Barnes.
That eventually led to another corner, which resulted in Brodie heading at Barnes. The keeper’s kick afterwards was poor though and Devitt found Cook with a return ball into the box, although the striker’s weak effort was comfortable for Barnes.
A good chance for Alfreton came when Bradley passed to Arnold and he ran at Miller before shooting from 18 yards, although the effort was straight at McKeown.
Pearson had to block a Josh Law cross for a corner on 25 minutes and although the initial kick was cleared, Alfreton kept possession and McKeown had to tip away a Harriott cross from the right.
Brodie looked to complete the clearance but could only find striker Boden, who was then brought down clumsily by Brodie after racing into the box. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and BRADLEY stepped up to open the scoring, firing past McKeown in front of the travelling supporters from Derbyshire.
The away side deserved their advantage after being the better side in the opening stages and they won another corner on the half-hour, which was headed away by Cook before Arnold forced McKeown to dive and stop a shot from 25 yards.
It was not the start the Mariners would have wanted and when chances did come their way, they were still not testing Barnes in the Alfreton goal.
A driven ball from Hatton released Brodie on 32 minutes but he could only curl a shot well wide of the far post.
A foul by Kempson on Cook gave Town a free kick but after Hatton sent it into the box, Disley was beaten by Bradley as he shaped to shoot.
A corner on the right soon afterwards then led to Cook hooking a shot over the bar after the visiting defence failed to clear Thanoj’s delivery.
The Mariners were handed a way back into the game on 40 minutes, when they were awarded a penalty of their own. This time, Brodie was the man brought down by Ross Killock as he burst into the box and DEVITT coolly slotted into the bottom-right corner from the spot.
The equalising goal seemed to steady the home side and they were the ones pressing for a second as half-time approached.
A chipped cross from Marshall proved just too high for Disley but as the game moved into one added minute, the Mariners got the second goal they had been looking for.
BRODIE completed his transformation from penalty-conceding villain as he notched his first goal for the club, turning well inside the box and slotting past Barnes from eight yards.
Overall, the Grimsby performance had been poor for much of the half but they kept working hard and eventually got their rewards.
No changes were made before the restart and Town had the first chance of the second half when a free kick from McKeown was headed on by Cook but Brodie could only drag his shot wide.
Right-back Franks had to concede a corner after a low cross from Devitt on the right on 50 minutes but the kick from Thanoj was cleared.
At the other end, a shot from Arnold from the edge of the box went just wide of the far post.
Devitt then cut in from the left to hit a shot that proved fairly comfortable for Barnes after good play by Thanoj and Brodie.
Brodie tried to lift a shot over Barnes after Cook had flicked the ball forward but the Crawley loanee could not get enough height on the chip.
Town were well on top though and their third goal was not long in coming, as more good play by Brodie saw him take the ball into the box on the left before pulling it back for strike partner COOK to back-heel past Barnes at the near post.
It could have been 4-1 just before the hour, when a cross from Hatton on the right was controlled in the box by Cook but this time, the keeper was equal to his shot.
Arnold, who had been Alfreton’s main threat, saw a shot deflected away for a corner on 62 minutes and from it, Kempson’s header was cleared off the line by Thomas.
The first substitution came soon afterwards and saw Colbeck replace Devitt, with Marshall moving over to the left wing as the sub slotted in on the right.
Brodie was booked after play was stopped for an infringement indicated by one of the assistant referees, with Town looking to be on the attack.
Clayton replaced Boden for Alfreton on 67 minutes, before John-Lewis was given his Grimsby debut off the bench in place of Brodie, who received a warm round of applause from the home fans.
The Alfreton sub made an almost impact as he brought the visitors back to within one goal with 20 minutes to go. Town failed to clear the ball on the edge of their own box and after he had worked an opening, CLAYTON rifled into the net to make it 3-2.
Arnold won a corner for the rejuvenated visitors on 74 minutes but the ball from the flag beat everybody and Bradley’s deep cross from the opposite flank was held by McKeown.
Town had a penalty claim turned down when Cook tangled with Streete as he chased down a through-ball by Disley but when the striker went down, the referee waved play on.
A foul on John-Lewis on the corner of the penalty area soon afterwards did bring a free kick and Hatton’s smashed shot had to be beaten away for a corner by Barnes.
Niven replaced Thanoj in the centre of the Grimsby midfield with 12 minutes to go as the Mariners management team looked to hold onto their advantage.
But soon afterwards, the points were made safe as Town got their fourth goal with ten minutes to go. A chipped cross from Marshall was headed towards goal by John-Lewis and his effort was blocked on the line but DISLEY was there to smash the ball home from close range.
The result meant the Mariners extended their lead at the top of the table to three points and they are next in action when AFC Telford United visit Blundell Park on Saturday.
Att: 3,868 (85 away)