GRIMSBY Town moved into the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy with a narrow victory over Maidenhead United at Blundell Park.
Town dominated the first half but struggled to find a way through the visitors’ defence until goals from Joe Colbeck and Shaun Pearson put them in command at the halfway point.
Maidenhead then hit back soon after half-time when striker Reece Tison-Lascaris made it 2-1.
The visitors were much-improved in the second half and had chances to level the scores and force a replay but Town had enough to see the game through and secure their place in the last eight.
Town boss Paul Hurst named a strong line-up for the visit of the Magpies, despite making five changes to the side that lost to Huddersfield last time out.
Jonathan Hedge came in for his first start in goal as James McKeown missed a game for the first time this season.
The other changes saw Craig Disley, Scott Neilson, Andy Cook and Ross Hannah drop out of the XI to be replaced by Paddy McLaughlin, Alex Rodman, Dayle Southwell and Lenell John-Lewis.
Hedge began behind an unchanged defence of Paul Bignot, Pearson, Chris Doig and Aswad Thomas, while the midfield was made up of Colbeck, AndI Thanoj, McLaughlin and Rodman.
That left John-Lewis and Southwell as the strikers, with Disley, Cook and Neilson joined on the bench by Sam Hatton and Paul Walker.
Maidenhead made the long journey north looking to spring a surprise, with the Skrill South strugglers aiming to knock out the Mariners, who play a division higher in the football pyramid.
Lone striker Tison-Lascaris was the man out to cause problems for the Town defence and provide the firepower for Johnson Hippolyte’s side.
A run from Southwell through the middle looked like it could have led to the first chance of the game but defender Jacob Erskine stepped in to stop the striker.
A deep cross from Harry Pritchard for the visitors had Hedge scrambling back but the ball went just over his bar at the far post for a goal kick.
At the other end, a low cross from Colbeck on the right brought the first corner of the match and McLaughlin’s ball picked Southwell out but the striker could only prod the ball wide.
Town were beginning to get on top as the 10-minute mark passed, although another good cross from Colbeck was not converted as Southwell could not make contact with the ball.
Another cross from the right winger led to a Grimsby corner when Southwell was blocked at the near post and this time, McLaughlin found Rodman but he headed wide.
Rodman then flicked a ball on for John-Lewis to run into space but when he pulled it back, nobody in black and white could convert it and it was cleared for another corner, this time on the left. Colbeck’s delivery was put behind again and his second attempt went out for a goal kick.
Rodman had a shot blocked on 26 minutes as the Mariners looked to step things up and the left winger almost put the hosts ahead a minute later but his curling shot was met by the fingertips of visiting keeper Elvijs Putnins to tip the ball onto his bar.
Another Rodman effort was blocked on 28 minutes, before a low Thomas cross from the left beat everybody but came back off the far post.
A Colbeck corner from the left just before the half-hour led to a shot from McLaughlin being blocked as Town continued their search for an opening goal.
Another corner came soon afterwards when a shot by McLaughlin was deflected wide but this time, Putnins collected Colbeck’s delivery.
Town were doing all of the attacking and John-Lewis almost found that elusive goal when he connected with a cross from the left but he could not keep the ball down and it flew just over the bar.
The Mariners finally had the lead on 35 minutes, when a low ball from John-Lewis on the left was picked up by COLBECK, who cut in and hit a shot that went in off keeper Putnins at the near post.
The away side had not created many attacking opportunities but they were given a chance with a free kick to the left of the Town penalty area on 40 minutes. Danny Green took it but his shot was saved by Hedge.
At the other end, a shot from Rodman was deflected out for a corner and from it, the home side doubled their advantage when McLaughlin’s delivery was headed home by PEARSON.
Another corner came when a Thomas cross was blocked by Erskine but this time, Putnins claimed the ball.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and after Thomas had a shot saved by Putnins, it remained 2-0 to the Mariners at the break.
The hosts had dominated but struggled to find a breakthrough for much of the half, before getting the goals that saw them looking comfortable at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and Maidenhead made a bright start to the second half, controlling possession in the early stages.
And they had their reward four minutes in, when TISON-LASCARIS let fly with a low shot from 25 yards that beat hedge and crept into the corner of the net to halve the deficit.
The away side almost equalised on 53 minutes, when a cross from Tison-Lascaris was met on the volley by Harry Grant. His shot took a deflection but Hedge dived and got a hand to it and the ball was cleared for a corner before the ball could cross the goal-line.
Town had a chance to restore their two-goal cushion when the ball was pulled back for Colbeck near the edge of the Maidenhead penalty area but his shot was saved.
Daniel Brown was booked for a foul on Rodman on the Town left but McLaughlin’s free kick only found the hands of Putnins in the visitors’ goal.
Rodman won a corner after a run down the left just after the hour but it was cleared and Town’s lead remained at one goal.
That lead should have been wiped out soon afterwards, when Harry Pritchard sent a ball across the six-yard line from the left but Green could not connect for what would have been a tap-in.
The next chance came at the other end through Thomas but Putnins got down well to make a good save from the left-back to push the ball away.
Cook replaced John-Lewis as Town made the first substitution of the game on 66 minutes.
Bignot conceded a corner not long afterwards but Green’s kick was headed away by Pearson. Maidenhead kept possession though and worked it back for Green to have a shot which was saved by Hedge.
The away side continued to put pressure on the Town goal as they began to sense they were still very much in the game.
Skipper Mark Nisbet hit a first-time shot from long range that flew narrowly off-target as the away side’s promising spell continued.
Southwell narrowly failed to connect with a low cross from Colbeck, before Matt Ruby replaced Erskine for Maidenhead.
A Town corner from the left was dealt with by the away defence on 78 minutes, before a low, 20-yard shot from Rodman was stopped by Putnins.
A shot from Pritchard from 20 yards hit Rodman and went out for a Maidenhead corner with two minutes to go and the game still in the balance but the visitors could not make it count.
At the other end, Southwell could not beat Putnins as Town looked to make the game safe just before it moved into three minutes of added time.
No further chances came for either side in those extra minutes, meaning the Mariners moved into the next round and took another step towards the Wembley final.
Town are next in action on Tuesday, when they go to Forest Green Rovers.