.GRIMSBY Town were beaten by League One Doncaster Rovers in their first home friendly of the summer
The Mariners were always going to face a step up in the quality of their opposition after the first set of games against teams from lower divisions.
And so it proved, as the Football League side scored three first half goals to put the result beyond doubt before the interval.
Town improved after half-time and created some good opportunities to get themselves on the score-sheet.
But their visitors always looked comfortable and they added a fourth goal with seven minutes to go.
Town started with James McKeown in goal, behind a defence of Carl Magnay, Toto Nsiala, Shaun Pearson and Aswad Thomas.
Jack Mackreth, Craig Clay, Patrick McLaughlin and Nathan Arnold were the midfielders, with Lennell John-Lewis joined by Jon-Paul Pittman in attack.
Doncaster took the lead with just 11 seconds on the clock, when the ball was worked through the Town defence for Nathan Tyson to slot past the advancing McKeown.
It could have been 2-0 on three minutes but this time, McKeown made a save to ensure the only damage was a corner.
Town’s first attack saw Mackreth get the ball and set off on a run down the right but his cross was blocked for a throw-in.
The Mariners began to come into the game after the initial Doncaster dominance and McLaughlin hit the target with a 30-yard free kick on the quarter-hour but it was caught by Rovers keeper Ben Williams.
But the recovery proved to be short-lived as the visitors doubled their advantage when Kyle Bennett rounded McKeown and slotted into the net for 2-0.
A Grimsby corner from McLaughlin on the left found John-Lewis but he could not direct his header towards goal.
And a chance for the hosts came when Pittman’s touch sent Arnold away down the middle. He advanced into the box but saw his shot deflected behind for a corner, which led to a foul on the keeper.
Another corner came on 29 minutes but again, Town could not make it count as Mackreth’s delivery proved too high.
Doncaster were proving far more clinical and they scored a third on the half-hour, with Bennett turning provider this time to cut the ball back for Theo Robinson to find the bottom corner with a first-time shot.
Arnold’s left-wing cross four minutes before the break proved just too far ahead of John-Lewis for the striker to control, as Town looked to grab a foothold in the game before the end of the first half.
Another opportunity almost came on the stroke of half-time when Pittman did well on the left to work an opening and find Arnold but his shot was blocked.
So it remained 3-0 to the visitors at the interval, with the Mariners having it all to do to get back into the game in the second half.
Doncaster made three substitutions before the restart, with Alex Peterson, Scott Brown and goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown the men to come on.
And the away side almost stretched their lead further in the first minute of the second half when Harry Forrester hit the post with a free kick from 30 yards.
Pittman had a shot blocked for a corner at the other end, with Pearson’s far-post header from the flag-kick being cleared.
Town won a free kick when Arnold was fouled on the edge of the D after collecting a through-ball from McLaughlin on 50 minutes. McLaughlin took it but his shot hit the Doncaster wall.
Grimsby boss Paul Hurst made four substitutions on the hour, with Scott Neilson, Ross Hannah, Scott Brown and Joe Ironside coming on for McLaughlin, John-Lewis, Pittman and Mackreth.
Brown sent a good cross over from the left five minutes later but Pearson could only head it over the bar.
Magnay was replaced by Paul Bignot in the next of the home substitutions, with the game entering something of a lull.
Town should have been on the scoreboard on 74 minutes when a long pass from Nsiala found Arnold but after controlling the ball well, he could only fire over the bar.
Lewis Ferguson came on for Harry Forrester for Doncaster with a little under a quarter of an hour of the game to go.
Town had been much-improved in the second half and they had another chance to pull a goal back through Thomas on 78 minutes but he too failed to hit the target.
Doncaster added a fourth with seven minutes to go, when substitute Peterson struck a neat volley from the edge of the penalty area into the far corner of McKeown’s net.
Ironside hit a 20-yard shot at Ashdown, before Arnold tested the keeper with a swerving effort from similar range.
Neilson also tried his luck with a 25-yard shot that narrowly missed the target in the closing stages of the game.
After a poor start, Town had improved as the game went on but the three-division gap to their opponents was clear to see.
The Mariners are next in pre-season action when Mansfield Town visit Blundell Park on Friday (7pm).
Att: 1,168 (210 away)