Walsall 5-2 Grimsby Town
GRIMSBY Town’s Checkatrade Trophy campaign began with a defeat by League One Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium.
A first-half hat-trick from striker Amadou Bakayoko did the damage for the hosts after the Mariners had taken an early lead through Andrew Boyce.
Kieron Morris added a fourth goal for the hosts after the break, before Luke Summerfield pulled one back for Town.
But the home side got their three-goal lead back when Qamaruddin Kouhyar made it 5-2 to ensure they topped a group which also includes Sheffield United and Leicester City’s under-23 squad after the first round of fixtures.
Boss Paul Hurst named a strong Grimsby starting XI for the game, with four changes made from the team that beat Stevenage 5-2 on Saturday.
Zak Mills came in for his Mariners debut, with Boyce, Josh Venney and Scott Vernon the other alterations as Ben Davies, Dominic Vose, Ashley Chambers and Kayden Jackson all made way.
The Town side in full was James McKeown, Danny Andrew, Shaun Pearson, Boyce, Josh Gowling, Mills, Luke Summerfield, Craig Disley, Venney, Vernon and Omar Bogle.
Chambers and Vose were both named on the bench, along with Andy Warrington, Harry Clifton, Tom Bolarinwa and Max Wright.
The Mariners made the perfect start to the game when they took the lead with just five minutes on the clock. BOYCE was the man on the scoresheet, finding the net after a free kick taken by Summerfield.
The visitors’ good opening to the game continued and Summerfield himself registered a shot on target with 11 minutes gone, although his effort was caught by Walsall keeper Craig MacGillivray.
The hosts then struck back, equalising seven minutes later. Erhun Oztumer fed striker BAKAYOKO, whose shot was deflected into the ground and looped up over McKeown, who was left with no chance.
Walsall immediately went in search of more goals but the next chance of note fell for Bogle on 24 minutes. His shot was blocked by Edwards and a follow-up attempt was then held by the keeper.
A Summerfield free kick soon afterwards was dealt with by MacGillivray and a long throw from Mills just before the half-hour was headed on by Pearson but Vernon was unable to profit from it as the home side cleared the danger.
A long-range shot from Venney was comfortably and at the other end, McKeown was equal to an effort from distance by Morris.
After falling behind, Walsall completed the turnaround six minutes before the break. Liam Kinsella made an interception after Town lost possession in midfield and after he fed BAKAYOKO, the forward made it 2-1 by sweeping the ball underneath McKeown.
And it was to get worse for the Mariners just before half-time when BAKAYOKO completed his hat-trick, taking advantage of a slip by Gowling in defence to fire into the net.
Two added minutes were played before the referee’s whistle brought the first half to a close, with Grimsby now having a mountain to climb to get back into the game.
Three Town substitutions were made before the restart, with Bolarinwa, Chambers and Vose coming on for Gowling, Venney and Bogle.
But it was the home side who almost extended their advantage further with an early free kick, which Oztumer hit into the side-netting.
Town responded with a free kick of their own soon afterwards but Vose was unable to make it count as his powerful shot went wide of the target.
Bolarinwa then looked to have created some danger with a cross from the right but the home defence eventually managed to clear their lines.
The winger was involved again on 50 minutes, intercepting a square ball and hitting a shot which was saved by MacGillivray.
At the other end, Oztumer spotted McKeown off his line and let fly with an effort from inside the centre circle which missed the target.
And when the game’s fifth goal came on the hour, it was Walsall who put the result beyond doubt. A good move orchestrated by Oztumer eventually led to Joe Edwards finding MORRIS, who applied the finish to make it 4-1.
Town hit back and reduced the arrears on 67 minutes and again, Bolarinwa was to the fore. He beat his man down the right and played a perfect ball across for SUMMERFIELD to score from close range.
A Mariners corner was dealt with, before Walsall regained their three-goal advantage with a little less than 20 minutes to play. A ball from Edwards fell for KOUHYAR, who worked his way into the box before slotting past McKeown.
The goal proved to be Kouhyar’s last contribution to the game as he was replaced straight afterwards.
Walsall kept attacking as the clock ticked down, with Oztumer dragging a shot wide on 83 minutes.
A Town corner soon afterwards caused no problems for the home defence as Vose sent the ball straight out of play for a goal kick.
A chance for the Mariners came as the game entered its final minute, although Vose could only head over the bar.
Vose was pulled back by Matt Preston on the edge of the Walsall penalty area but again, the visitors were unable to trouble keeper MacGillivray from the resulting free kick.
Three added minutes were played and with no further chances, the hosts claimed an ultimately comfortable win.