GRIMSBY Town had an afternoon to forget as they were beaten by FC Halifax Town at The Shay.
The damage was done inside the first half-hour, as Billy Whitehouse, James Bolton and Nicky Wroe all scored to give the hosts a match-winning lead.
Town offered little in front of goal for much of the game and although they did keep searching for a way back into the contest, it was not to come, despite a late consolation goal by Padraig Amond.
Instead, another huge away following of 1,767 was left disappointed as Halifax adapted better to the wet, windy conditions and claimed a fully deserved win.
Their victory was rounded off by a superb free kick from substitute Jake Hibbs, although Town managed to pull another goal back when Jon Nolan made it 4-2 in the closing stages.
Three changes were made to the Town side after last week’s goalless draw with Boreham Wood.
One was enforced, with Craig Clay replacing captain Craig Disley, who was ruled out through suspension after picking up his 10th yellow card of the season in that game.
The other alterations saw the fit-again Gregor Robertson return at left-back in place of Evan Horwood, while new loan signing Ryan Jennings was preferred to Nathan Arnold on the right wing.
James McKeown started in goal, with Richard Tait, Toto Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Robertson making up the back four.
Jennings, Clay, Nolan and Andy Monkhouse were the midfielders, with Amond and Omar Bogle forming the strike partnership.
The Grimsby subs were Arnold, Horwood, Shaun Pearson, Jon-Paul Pittman and Anthony Straker.
Halifax came into the game looking to bounce straight back after losing their first game in 13 to Forest Green Rovers last week.
The Shaymen were fourth from bottom of the National League at kick-off, so would be looking to claim the three points and move back out of the relegation zone.
After a cagey start from both teams, the hosts registered the first shot on target on six minutes, when a quick break led to new loan signing Billy Whitehouse shooting at McKeown from the left.
At the other end, a cross from Nolan on the left almost picked out Amond but the ball was cleared.
Town fell behind on 10 minutes, when right-back James Bolton was given far too much room to attack and his cross found WHITEHOUSE, who finished from 12 yards to open the scoring.
The Mariners responded by winning a corner through Jennings on the right three minutes later but Nolan’s delivery beat everybody.
Bogle won a free kick on the left soon afterwards and it almost led to an equaliser as Nolan’s ball broke for Gowling but defender Matthew Brown got back to clear off the line.
Town were now starting to get into their rhythm and a cross from Robertson on the left was headed towards goal by Amond at the far post, although home keeper Sam Johnson got down to make the stop.
Whitehouse won a corner off Gowling on 18 minutes but referee John Brooks blew for a free kick in Town’s favour as Robertson headed it clear.
The referee blew for another Town free kick as Amond looked to be in a good position to shoot at the other end soon afterwards. Bogle’s shot from the set-piece hit the Halifax wall, before Jennings miscued an effort which went out for a throw-in.
Another powerful attempt from Jennings was blocked by Brown on 22 minutes, before Josh MacDonald headed over the bar for Halifax.
The hosts were looking the brighter of the two teams in attack and they had another corner when an attempted cross by Bolton was blocked by Robertson. And it led to a second goal, when Scott McManus’ delivery found the unmarked BOLTON, who headed past McKeown.
And it was 3-0 on 28 minutes, as the Mariners were again badly exposed at the back. Midfielder Kingsley James skipped past Nsiala on the left and squared for WROE, who had the simple task of slotting home from 12 yards.
Town looked to have created an opportunity to get on the scoresheet soon afterwards but Monkhouse was flagged offside as he shot over the bar from inside the penalty area.
Nolan was fouled inside the Halifax half on 37 minutes as the Mariners looked to get a foothold in the game before half-time but the resulting free kick was caught by Johnson.
A shot from Nolan was blocked soon afterwards, before Bogle was crowded out inside the box and the ball went through to Johnson.
Wroe was shown the first yellow card on 40 minutes for pulling Amond down just inside the home half but Town were unable to cause any problems from the resulting free kick.
The Mariners won a corner when a shot from Jennings was deflected behind after a Robertson cross but again, they could not trouble Johnson from the flag.
Nsiala had to get back and concede a corner as Halifax looked for a fourth goal before the break but McManus’ ball was headed out for another one. This time, the delivery from the flag was headed on for Whitehouse, who sent an overhead kick just wide.
After two added minutes were played, it was the home supporters who were cheering, as the huge travelling Mariners support voiced its disapproval of a disastrous first half.
Pittman replaced Bogle and Arnold came on for Monkhouse before the restart, with the visitors looking for a change in fortunes.
And they had an early chance when a cross from the left found Jennings, although he couldn’t steer it into the net.
A Town corner came nine minutes in but after Nolan retrieved Arnold’s delivery on the left, Robertson’s cross was caught by Johnson.
Jake Hibbs replaced MacDonald on 55 minutes for the home side, before Arnold fired a volley high and wide after the ball broke to him following a cross by Jennings.
Another chance to attack came when Jennings was fouled but the Wigan loanee’s free kick was headed clear.
Town kept attacking and they had another corner just after the hour but again, it was comfortably headed away from danger.
Pittman saw a shot blocked from the edge of the box, then Clay fired over the bar from a similar distance as the Mariners continued to look for a goal.
Halifax attacks had been fewer since half-time but they looked to have a chance when the ball was played through for striker Richard Peniket, although Nsiala did well to make sure it went through to McKeown.
Peniket was replaced soon afterwards, with Jordan Burrow coming on for the home side.
Further substitutions saw Shaquille McDonald replace Whitehouse for the hosts and Straker come on for Jennings for the Mariners.
Halifax almost made it 4-0 when McDonald combined with fellow sub Burrow but the latter hit his low shot inches wide of the far post from the edge of the box.
A free kick midway inside the home half gave Town another opportunity to get the ball into the penalty area but again, it was comfortably dealt with by the home defence.
Arnold then sent a wild shot well over the bar from 25 yards, before a corner from the left with five minutes to go finally led to the Mariners getting on the scoresheet. Arnold’s delivery was weakly punched by Johnson and the ball eventually came to AMOND, who found the net from close range.
But any hopes that could spark a late, late comeback were dashed when HIBBS curled a brilliant free kick beyond McKeown after Gowling was adjudged to have committed a foul 25 yards out.
The scoring didn’t end there though, as the Mariners pulled another goal back through NOLAN, who rifled a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Four added minutes were played before the referee’s whistle brought to an end what had been a bad afternoon for Town, who must now look to bounce back when Woking visit Blundell Park on Tuesday