Wrexham 0 Town 1GRIMSBY Town beat Wrexham to earn their third away win in a row and move up to third in the Skrill Premier.
As with the victories at Hereford and Nuneaton, one goal proved enough to secure maximum points for the Mariners, with the recalled Paddy McLaughlin on target afte 11 minutes.
Town controlled the game for long periods and were rarely in trouble against the Welsh side, who they completed a quickfire league double over after winning the reverse fixture at Blundell Park on March 15.
They were forced to survive a late rally by the hosts but held firm to make one of their games in hand count by moving back into the play-off positions.
Four changes were made to the Town starting XI from the weekend win at Hereford, with one enforced as Andi Thanoj came into the midfield in place of the suspended Scott Kerr.
The other alterations saw the strikeforce swapped around, with Ross Hannah and Lenell John-Lewis given the nod instead of Andy Cook and Connor Jennings, who started at Edgar Street.
McLaughlin replaced Scott Neilson in the fourth change, with the winger dropping to the bench.
James McKeown started in goal, with the back four comprising Sam Hatton, Shaun Pearson, Andrew Boyce and Aswad Thomas.
Alex Rodman began on the right of midfield, with captain Craig Disley partnering Thanoj in the middle and McLaughlin slotting in on the left.
Hannah and John-Lewis formed the attack, with Neilson and Jennings joined on the bench by Joe Colbeck, Oumare Tounkara and Clayton McDonald as Cook missed out completely.
Wrexham were looking for their first win under new manager Kevin Wilkin but were without Wolves loanee Bradley Reid, who picked up an ankle injury in their 2-1 defeat by Woking.
Striker Andy Bishop and midfielder Jay Harris came into the Red Dragons side that was beaten at Blundell Park just over two weeks ago.
Town had an early spell of pressure with a succession of throw-ins, before Rodman had the first chance when he cut in and fired a shot that was blocked and a rebound that went to keeper Andy Coughlan.
The Mariners’ good start continued when a cross from McLaughlin found John-Lewis but his header lacked the necessary direction to hit the target.
A cross-shot by McLaughlin was then deflected over the bar for the game’s first corner on seven minutes but Thanoj’s kick beat everybody and went out for a Wrexham throw.
A Town free kick came three minutes later but Pearson’s looping header from Hatton’s delivery did not test Coughlan.
The visitors had started well and they took the lead on 11 minutes, when McLAUGHLIN received a cross-field pass from Hannah and cut inside, switching the ball from his left foot to his right before smashing a shot into the net.
Hannah went down after being hit in the face by the ball from close range soon afterwards but was passed fit to continue.
Wrexham attacks had been scarce in the early stages but they had a chance to get the ball into the Town box with a free kick on the quarter-hour. Neil Ashton’s ball was dealt with by the away defence though.
Another good move by Grimsby ended with a Thomas cross which was put out for a throw, giving the visitors more opportunity to keep up their pressure.
A Rodman cross was headed clear, before Disley found Thomas on the left and his cross was pushed over the bar for a corner. McLaughlin’s ball to the far post was claimed by Coughlan.
Hannah tried a speculative shot from a long way out on 26 minutes as the Mariners continued to show confidence but the effort was caught by the home keeper.
Town were controlling the game and having plenty of time on the ball and they won another free kick on the half-hour, although Hatton’s delivery was punched clear by Coughlan.
Midfielder Harris hit a shot off-target for the hosts after an attempted clearance by Hatton was charged down, with McKeown still not called into any serious action so far.
He was involved not long afterwards though, as he tried to clear a misplaced backpass but hit the ball against striker Joe Anyinsah, although it bounced to safety.
Wrexham began to come into the game and they could have equalised when a cross from Harris was met by Jonny Hunt at the far post but McKeown got down to make the save.
Disley sliced a shot for Town after another good move involving John-Lewis and Thanoj with six minutes to go before the break.
Bishop looked to create a chance for the hosts as the clock ticked down but Boyce stepped in to block the striker.
Two additional minutes were played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side, Town retained their advantage at the halfway point.
No changes were made at half-time and a Wrexham free kick provided the first real action of the half, as Mark Carrington’s ball was punched clear by McKeown.
The home side won a corner through Pearson soon afterwards, which quickly turned into another as Boyce headed behind. This time, it was Disley who headed clear.
Town were yet to make an impression in front of goal since the interval, as their hosts controlled the early stages of the second half.
That almost changed eight minutes in when a Rodman cross aimed at McLaughlin was blocked for a corner, which was eventually cleared.
John-Lewis almost fed Hannah as the Mariners looked to craft a chance two minutes later but defender Danny Livesey was able to cut the ball out.
A shot from Hannah was deflected wide for a corner and after McLaughlin’s delivery was half-cleared, the ball dropped for John-Lewis but his shot missed the target.
Another corner soon afterwards led to Hatton firing over the bar, before a cross at the other end looped over McKeown but proved just too high, grazing the bar before going over.
Town were still looking to attack and after a run by Thomas down the left, his cross was headed towards goal by Hannah but pushed wide for a corner by Coughlan.
Hatton was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on 65 minutes, before Anyinsah shot over the bar for Wrexham after being found by Carrington.
Disley had a shot blocked four minutes later, while Hannah sent a header wide from Grimsby’s next chance.
Jennings replaced Hannah with 15 minutes to go and the substitute’s first action saw him hit a shot from the edge of the box which was blocked.
A Wrexham free kick taken by Dean Keates was headed wide by Joe Clarke as the home side looked to get themselves back in the game.
Brett Ormerod replaced Bishop up front for the home side for the last 10 minutes.
A free kick from Thanoj then looked to have caused problems in the home penalty area but nobody in black and white could get on the end of it and the lead remained at one goal.
Stephen Wright was booked for a foul on John-Lewis with seven minutes to go, before the home side came the closest yet to an equaliser when a shot by Anyinsah led to a scramble in the six-yard box but Town eventually cleared.
They then broke when John-Lewis kept the ball in from the clearance but Jennings could not find a finish as his shot went wide.
John-Lewis was denied by Coughlan after getting onto a through-ball from Thanoj.
The striker was replaced by Touonkara with a minute to go, plus the three signalled minutes of stoppage time.
Wrexham kept pushing for an equaliser and a late corner caused some panic when a header at the far post was blocked before again, the Mariners eventually dealt with the danger.
And that proved to be the final chance for the home side to rescue a point, as Town took a big step in their battle to reach the play-offs.
Grimsby are next in action when they travel to Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday.