GRIMSBY Town moved up to third in the National League with a narrow victory against Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium.
A single goal, scored by Padraig Amond, proved to be the difference between the two sides near the south coast.
The Mariners struck just before the half-hour and had chances to add to their lead over the remainder of the game.
The hosts rarely threatened James McKeown's goal but the Town defence had to withstand some late pressure to ensure Amond’s strike was enough to earn a vital three points and make it four wins on the spin in all competitions.
Town boss Paul Hurst named an unchanged starting line-up after the home win against Welling United last time out, meaning Shaun Pearson again had to be content with a place on the bench as Josh Gowling and Toto Nsiala continued at the heart of the defence.
McKeown started in goal, with Richard Tait and Conor Townsend completing the back four alongside Gowling and Nsiala.
Nathan Arnold began on the right side of midfield, with Craig Disley and Craig Clay in the centre and Andy Monkhouse on the left.
Amond and Alex Jones continued in attack, while Pearson was joined on the bench by Gregor Robertson, Danny East, Scott Brown and the returning Jon-Paul Pittman, as Jack Mackreth and Marcus Marshall both dropped out of the squad after last week’s victory.
Eastleigh began the day a point and a place ahead of the Mariners in the table and would look to the likes of Ben Strevens and James Constable for the goals to keep them ahead.
Town won the first corner of the game on seven minutes after good work by Disley in midfield but after Monkhouse headed it towards goal, defender Mike Green cleared the ball for another corner. This time, Gowling headed Townsend’s delivery towards goal but the ball was cleared from danger.
Eastleigh’s first attack of note came three minutes later and saw Josh Payne make progress before sending over a cross which was caught by McKeown.
The Mariners went close on 12 minutes when Jones got in behind the home defence and looked to be one-on-one with keeper Ross Flitney. But as the Birmingham City loanee was about to shoot, defender Wes Atkinson got back to challenge and win the ball.
A Townsend cross was flicked by Jones and Arnold retrieved it at the far post but could not make the opportunity count as the visitors continued to create the majority of the early openings.
Arnold and Jones linked up to create another chance on 17 minutes but this time, it was Will Evans who got back to put the ball out for a corner. Townsend’s ball was cleared as far as Arnold, who blasted it over the bar.
A foul by Nsiala gave the home side a free kick in a dangerous position a minute later and from it, the ball came off Tait’s head and went out for a corner, via the crossbar. From the flag-kick, the referee spotted a foul and blew for a Grimsby free kick.
Arnold saw a shot cleared by Evans after good play by Townsend down the left on 24 minutes, before a cross from Green at the other end beat everybody and went out for a Town throw.
The Mariners took the lead on 29 minutes, when persistent play by Arnold saw him get the ball across the 18-yard box for Jones. He then found AMOND and the club’s leading scorer poked it past Flitney from close range to make it 17 for the season.
Clay and Andy Drury were both yellow-carded after an altercation soon after the goal, before an Eastleigh free kick led to Yemi Odubade trying an overhead kick but the ball was cleared for a throw-in.
Amond launched a Grimsby attack after dropping back to win the ball on 34 minutes but his ball for Jones was too strong and Flitney gathered it.
The keeper was called into action again soon afterwards after a corner from Townsend was not dealt with by the home defence. Flitney dived on it to stop the danger before any Town attacker could pounce on the loose ball.
A Monkhouse cross came off the head of Jones on 40 minutes and dropped for Arnold but the ball was cleared for a Town throw.
The Mariners then won another corner but Gowling could only head Townsend’s delivery wide of Flitney’s goal.
Two added minutes were played at the end of the half and a foul on Amond by Strevens in the first of them brought a Grimsby free kick near the halfway line. The ball found Amond but after he sent it towards the penalty spot, it was cleared by Green.
That proved to be the last attack of note before the referee’s half-time whistle blew, with Town’s 1-0 lead intact at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart, which came slightly later than scheduled after problems with two of the floodlights, which had initially failed to come on.
A free kick from McKeown after an offside decision against James Constable five minutes in was flicked on by Monkhouse but the ball was cleared before Jones could get to it.
Flitney then had to dive to stop a shot by Jones, who had turned past two defenders after getting the ball from Monkhouse.
Jones was involved again on 53 minutes, holding off Joe Partington and getting a shot away, although it went wide of the mark.
At the other end, a cross from Jai Reason was headed clear by Gowling, before a follow-up ball came off Nsiala and went out for a corner, which was cleared.
A shot by Reason was held by McKeown two minutes before the hour, then good defending by Nsiala saw him push Odubade wide enough to ensure his shot was from too narrow an angle to cause problems for the keeper.
A chance at the other end came after a cross from Townsend was cleared as far as Arnold. He worked the ball back to Townsend, who shot and forced Flitney to tip it over his bar for a corner. From the flag-kick, Nsiala sent a header off-target.
Gowling was booked for a foul on Odubade soon afterwards but the resulting free kick from Andy Drury was comfortably caught by McKeown.
Reason had another shot on 67 minutes but it was blocked by Gowling and McKeown managed to prevent the corner.
Another foul on Odubade, this time by Nsiala, brought a free kick for the hosts three minutes later. Reason chipped it into the box from 30 yards but it did not lead to a goalscoring opportunity and Town cleared.
At the other end, Clay hit a rising effort from distance which cleared Flitney’s bar.
Disley had to head the ball clear from a cross by Drury as Eastleigh looked for a way back into the game with a little more than 15 minutes to go.
Strevens, who was booked for a foul on Amond, was replaced by Ross Lafayette on 77 minutes, with the substitute joining Odubade and Constable in a front three.
Town were still pressing for a second goal which would all but make sure of the three points and they won a corner a minute later, which led to Nsiala heading just over the bar.
Pittman came on to replace Jones with 11 minutes to go and a chance for the substitute almost came on 85 minutes, although Evans came out on top in a challenge between the two in front of the Eastleigh goal.
Odubade won another free kick with three minutes left after Townsend was adjudged to have fouled him but Reason’s ball was cleared from danger by Amond and then Townsend.
Four added minutes were signalled by the fourth official and Odubade was replaced by Jack Midson but he was unable to make an impact as Town swapped East for Arnold and went on to close out the game to register an important win against a team who are likely to be a main promotion rival.
They were forced to cope with some late Eastleigh pressure after a last-gasp free kick but the danger was dealt with and the final whistle brought loud cheers from the 468 travelling supporters.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when Kidderminster Harriers are the visitors to Blundell Park.