GRIMSBY Town were beaten by League One Sheffield United in a keenly-contested pre-season friendly at Blundell Park.
Dom Calvert-Lewin opened the scoring for the visitors, before Billy Sharp doubled their lead soon afterwards.
Town showed signs of a recovery after half-time and they halved the deficit when Luke Summerfield scored with a curling shot from 25 yards.
But Sharp’s second – and the Blades’ third – of the game put the result beyond doubt at the hour mark.
Town began with goalkeeper James McKeown behind a defence of Ben Davies, Shaun Pearson, Josh Gowling and Danny Andrew.
Sean McAllister and Summerfield were the holding midfielders, with James Berrett, Dominic Vose and Ashley Chambers behind striker Kayden Jackson, who made his first appearance after signing on a season-long loan from Barnsley yesterday.
The away side’s Jack O’Connell conceded a cheap corner two minutes in but Pearson was beaten to the ball from the flag in front of an Osmond Stand packed with travelling supporters from Sheffield.
The first chance at the other end came two minutes later when former Scunthorpe and Southampton striker Sharp turned on the edge of the box but fired just over the bar.
Jackson had an attempt blocked from the edge of the penalty area as Town looked to create early openings, before a cross from Davies on the right proved too strong.
John Fleck saw a shot from distance blocked for a corner to the visitors on 10 minutes but Town cleared the danger from the flag-kick.
Jackson then battled well to win a corner at the other end but Vose’s delivery from the right was flicked clear.
Duffy tried his luck from distance on 17 minutes but his effort did not trouble McKeown, who was able to watch it swerve wide of the target.
The away side took the lead five minutes later, when a ball from the left was brought under control and headed over McKeown by CALVERT-LEWIN.
An initial shot from Matt Done was blocked by Pearson but the ball came back for SHARP to finish into the bottom corner of the net. And within two minutes, it was 2-0 after Gowling was beaten for pace and the ball was squared across the penalty area.
The Mariners could not profit from it though, as the ball broke for Pearson and he lifted it high over the bar. Town looked to hit back and a run from Jackson down the right saw him earn a corner.
John Brayford was the next to go close for the visitors, hitting a first-time shot from 25-yards that was stopped by McKeown.
Sharp had the ball in the net again on 37 minutes but the offside flag had already gone up against him, so Grimsby’s deficit remained at two goals.
And after a left-wing corner from Duffy was comfortably caught by McKeown, Town had an attack of their own which led to an attempt by Berrett curling wide of the far post after good play by Vose on the edge of the box.
No additional time was played at the end of the half, meaning the Blades took a commanding advantage into the dressing rooms with them at the interval.
Omar Bogle came on for McAllister for the Mariners before the restart, while Calvert-Lewin was replaced by Marc McNulty for the visitors.
The home substitution meant a change of shape to 4-4-2, with Bogle joining Jackson in attack as Chambers, Berrett, Summerfield and Vose forming the central quartet.
Gowling had to make a vital interception and concede a corner four minutes in, then Berrett was the man to clear off the line after a shot came in following the flag-kick.
Another corner eventually came to nothing but the away side continued to attack and a penalty claim came from the visiting supporters when Duffy went down inside the box, although the referee waved play on.
And soon afterwards, the Mariners were on the scoreboard as SUMMERFIELD picked the ball up near the edge of the penalty area before curling a shot past keeper George Long and into the net for 2-1.
The goal gave the hosts added confidence and soon afterwards, Bogle won a corner on the right which was played low for Summerfield to fire just over the bar at the near post.
For the first time in the game, the visitors were now coming under serious threat but they almost had their two-goal cushion back when Sharp struck the crossbar with a shot from 20 yards.
A run into the Town box saw him take the ball around McKeown and after his initial effort was blocked by Pearson, he made sure of the rebound, taking a touch and firing the ball into the bottom corner. And Sharp was not to be denied for much longer as he made it 3-1 on the hour.
That proved to be the striker’s last involvement in the game as he was replaced by Che Adams immediately after the goal.
A chance to make it 4-1 came when Chris Hussey’s low ball into the box found O’Connell but he could only lift it over the bar at the near post.
Two more away substitutions saw Paul Coutts and Stefan Scougall come on with 23 minutes left on the clock.
A Town corner on the right came two minutes later but Vose’s ball was comfortably dealt with.
Vose was then replaced by Craig Disley, with Andrew Boyce coming on for Pearson at the same time.
David Brooks came on for John Fleck for the away side with less than a quarter of an hour to play, before another change saw Ben Whiteman introduced in place of Chris Basham.
McKeown raced off his line to deny Adams as United kept looking for a fourth goal, before McNulty missed the target with a shot from the edge of the box.
Max Wright was sent on in place of Chambers for Town for the last six minutes and the substitutions kept coming as Kieran Wallace replaced Hussey and Kieron Freeman came on for Brayford for the visitors.
A foul by Davies on Adams gave United a free kick in a dangerous position on the left but Brooks’ ball into the box was headed away by Boyce.
A corner on the opposite flank soon afterwards did not lead to any problems for the home defence and it proved to be the last action of the game as the final whistle blew.
Town are next in action on Wednesday, when they travel to Gainsborough Trinity.