.GRIMSBY Town returned to winning ways with a comfortable victory over Welling United at Blundell Park
A first-half strike by Jon-Paul Pittman put the Mariners ahead before substitute Ross Hannah’s penalty made the points safe.
Town boss Paul Hurst was forced into making two changes to the team that started last week’s defeat at Aldershot.
Lenell John-Lewis missed out through suspension after being sent off in that game, while Andrew Boyce was unavailable after being recalled by parent club Scunthorpe United. They were replaced by Jack Mackreth and Paul Bignot.
James McKeown started in goal, with Bignot on the right of the back four, as Aristote Nsiala moved to the centre alongside Shaun Pearson and Carl Magnay continued on the left.
Mackreth, Craig Clay, Scott Brown and Patrick McLaughlin lined up in midfield, with Scott Neilson supporting striker Pittman.
The Grimsby substitutes were Craig Disley, Hannah, Chris Doig, Nathan Arnold and Paul Walker.
Welling made the long trip north from Kent looking for their first win of the season, having drawn three and lost three of their six games so far.
Player-manager Jamie Day lined up as one of the Wings’ three midfielders, while former Town player Jamal Fyfield had to be content with a place on the bench.
Town started by playing some pass-and-move possession football which almost led to an early chance for Pittman, although a heavy touch from the striker saw the ball go through to visiting keeper Jamie Turner.
The hosts then won the first corner after Pearson’s header from a McLaughlin free kick was deflected behind but Brown was unable to cause the Welling defence any problems from the flag.
A brilliant cross-field ball from Brown on nine minutes found Mackreth, who controlled it on his chest before running down the right but defender Ben Jefford stuck with him and won a goal kick.
Soon afterwards, a poor back-pass from Nsiala put McKeown under pressure and the keeper’s clearance fell for Jon Nouble but he was unable to get a shot in from the edge of the box and the Mariners cleared.
Good play by Magnay saw him keep the ball near the Welling penalty area before passing to Pittman, whose left-wing cross appeared to have taken a deflection for a corner but the officials instead gave a goal kick.
Town won a corner on 22 minutes when a cross from Clay was not dealt with properly by the Welling defence but Brown’s near-post delivery was headed away by Day.
Welling were given a free kick on the Grimsby six-yard line when a ball into the air by Pearson was caught by McKeown and referee John Brooks ruled it to be a back-pass. From it, Day’s shot was blocked for a corner, which was comfortably dealt with by the home defence.
A run by McLaughlin led to Neilson curling a 20-yard shot that was comfortably caught by Turner on 28 minutes.
Welling were then forced into making the game’s first substitution when striker Kieron St Aimie, who had gone down injured, failed to recover and was replaced by Tyrone Marsh.
Pittman dragged a shot wide after another run by McLaughlin, this time through the middle.
More good play from the hosts saw Mackreth and Magnay combine on the left and the former Gateshead man won a corner, which was headed clear.
A good chance almost came when Brown drove through midfield at pace before slipping the ball through for Neilson but an excellent block from Jefford took the ball out for a corner as the attacker looked to shoot.
Chances for the away side were few and far between but they did have an opportunity on 37 minutes when the ball was played back to Day in a central position but his shot curled wide.
A minute later, the Mariners were ahead when a measured ball into the box from Neilson was met by PITTMAN, who got on the end of it and finished well past Turner.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side, Town’s advantage remained intact at the break.
The home side had dominated possession and deserved their lead, having put together some good passages of play throughout the opening 45 minutes.
No changes were made before the restart and the visitors seemed to have improved in the early stages of the second half, keeping the ball for longer albeit without causing a problem for the Grimsby defence.
At the other end, Loui Fazakarley did well to cut out a pass from Neilson into the Welling penalty area.
Mackreth won a corner for the Mariners on 52 minutes but Magnay missed his kick at the far post when Brown crossed after the ball from the flag was taken quickly.
Midfielder Harry Beautyman could not direct a header on target after a high cross from Nouble on the right, before substitute Marsh fired wide when he should probably have done better after a good pass from Day.
Another opening for the away side came when Jake Gallagher slid a ball through for Marsh but again, his finish was poor, shooting over the bar from 18 yards.
A foul on Magnay gave Grimsby a free kick on the left corner of the Welling box but Pearson headed McLaughlin’s cross wide for a goal kick.
With the Mariners struggling to create chances after the interval, Hannah replaced Mackreth on 67 minutes as Neilson moved to the right and the substitute joined Pittman up front.
The substitution had an almost immediate impact as within two minutes, Neilson’s ball sent Bignot away into the box and after he was fouled from behind by Malachi Hudson, referee Mr Brooks pointed to the spot.
Hudson was booked for the challenge and Chris Bush was also yellow-carded for dissent, before HANNAH stepped up to smash the penalty it down the middle to make it 2-0 as Turner dived left.
A Welling corner led to defender Zac Fagan seeing a header blocked on the line after he met Day’s delivery.
Fyfield replaced Bush in the away defence, before Arnold replaced Pittman in attack for the Mariners with a little less than 15 minutes to go.
Day was booked for a trip on Hannah, before Grimsby’s final change saw Disley come on in place of McLaughlin.
Gallagher was the next name to go into the referee’s notebook after he was punished for a foul on Clay near the halfway line.
Town were comfortable now but were still looking to add to their score and they almost did just that when Arnold let fly from 30 yards, only for Turner to beat the ball away.
Nsiala conceded a corner as the game moved into three added minutes but Day’s kick was headed clear by Disley.
A chip from Hudson on the left had to be touched over for a corner by McKeown but again, Welling failed to threaten from the flag, as Beautyman’s overhit cross went out for a goal kick.
Day tried a shot from a 30-yard free kick in the dying seconds but McKeown held onto it to preserve his clean sheet.
That proved to be the last action of the game as the referee’s whistle confirmed Grimsby’s third win of the season.
The Mariners are next in action when they travel to Lincoln City on Tuesday.
Catch the highlights of the game on Mariners Player.