GRIMSBY Town were knocked out of the FA Cup at the first round stage as they lost by a single goal to League One promotion hopefuls Bolton Wanderers at the Macron Stadium.
The Mariners were second-best during the first half as their hosts controlled the game and took a deserved lead through former Town loanee Liam Trotter.
But after the break, it was a different story as Grimsby switched to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation and pushed forward in search of an equaliser.
Roared on by 1,905 travelling supporters, Town looked the more likely to get the next goal but it was not to come and the home side managed to hold on for the win.
The Mariners and their supporters would have been encouraged by the second-half display though and they may feel unlucky not to have been looking forward to at least a replay.
One change was made to the Town side that earned a goalless draw at Yeovil last time out, with Brandon Comley coming into the XI in place of Tom Bolarinwa.
James McKeown started in goal, with Zak Mills, Danny Collins, Josh Gowling and Danny Andrew making up an unchanged defence.
Craig Disley and Luke Summerfield began behind James Berrett, Comley and Omar Bogle, with Scott Vernon operating up-front.
Bolarinwa was named on the bench, along with Andy Warrington, Shaun Pearson, Rhys Browne, Kayden Jackson, Andrew Boyce and the returning Ashley Chambers, who had been out of action through injury since the start of October.
Bolton came into the game having made a good start to life in League One following relegation from the Championship last season.
The Trotters’ second-placed league position made them the second-highest ranked club in the FA Cup at this stage of the competition.
Manager Phil Parkinson included Newcastle loanee Sammy Ameobi and League One Fans’ Player of the Month Zach Clough in his starting XI.
The home side had the first chance of the game on three minutes, with Jamie Proctor hitting the post from inside the box before the ball was cleared for a throw-in.
A cross from the Bolton right was cleared for a corner by Gowling soon afterwards but the hosts were unable to cause any problems from the flag.
At the other end, Town’s first chance to attack came when Bogle was fouled midway inside the Bolton half on eight minutes Summerfield could only hit the home wall but the Mariners kept possession until the ball was eventually brought clear by Trotter.
Comley was bundled over to bring about another free kick in a promising position and this time, it led to a corner on the left. Sumerfield’s delivery was unconvincingly pushed out by home keeper Mark Howard and the ball came to Berrett, who fired over the bar from 20 yards.
Town were growing into the game and Summerfield was the next to try his luck from distance, although his low shot lacked accuracy and went wide of the target.
But the Mariners were carved open by some excellent Bolton build-up play on 17 minutes involving Ameobi and Trotter. They worked an opening for Clough but he could not apply the finish, instead clipping the ball just beyond the far post.
Andrew had to concede a corner three minutes later as the hosts started to get on top and from it, they took the lead. Clough’s ball from the flag was met by TROTTER and he sent a free header past McKeown and into the net.
Andrew was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Chris Taylor, before a Town free kick was headed clear for a throw-in.
Ameobi was having a big influence on the game and he had the next chance for the home side, controlling a long Crossfield pass and taking the ball forward before shooting at McKeown from 20 yards.
Clough went close again as Bolton threatened to extend their lead, shooting just wide after a low cross from Lawrie Wilson on the right.
After a spell of Wanderers pressure, the Mariners began to see more of the ball and they almost got their reward from a corner five minutes before the break. Summerfield’s delivery was met by Gowling at the near post but the centre-back’s header went wide.
A long throw opportunity for Mills looked like another chance to put pressure on the home goal but the ball was brought clear from it and Clough broke, although his eventual shot was saved by McKeown.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and with no further chances created by either side, the hosts retained their one-goal advantage at the interval.
Town had shown little attacking threat but at only 1-0 down, were far from out of the contest at the halfway point.
No changes were made before the restart and Town began the second half brightly, with Berrett hitting a controlled volley just over the bar three minutes in.
Bolton’s first chance of the second half fell to Proctor after he was found by Clough, although his low shot was saved by McKeown.
Town then responded with another attack of their own, which ended with Bogle firing over the bar from 25 yards.
Proctor was booked for a foul on Berrett just inside the Mariners half, with the visitors now looking much brighter in attack.
Town had their best opportunity so far on 57 minutes, with Berrett running onto a pass inside the box and hitting a shot that keeper Howard did well to push out for a corner.
Another corner came soon afterwards on the opposite flank and although they were unable to make the most of either opportunity, the momentum now looked to be with the Mariners, who were being roared on by their travelling supporters.
Berrett had a shot blocked for another corner after good play by Vernon but again, Town could not test Howard in the Bolton goal from the flag-kick.
The away side did go close to an equaliser on 65 minutes though, as Vernon’s header from Andrew’ left-wing cross dropped just wide of the target.
The hosts made the first substitution soon after that, with Keshi Anderson replacing Proctor.
Bolton chances had not come as frequently after the break as they had done in the first half, although Anderson forced McKeown into a save after cutting in from the left on 71 minutes.
Ameobi won a corner soon afterwards but a header from it went away from goal and Town were able to clear.
Chris Taylor was replaced by James Henry with 15 minutes to go, with the Mariners introducing Bolarinwa in place of Comley at the same time.
McKeown came rushing out of his penalty area when a ball was played through for Henry but the Town keeper did well, timing his challenge perfectly to end the danger.
Browne replaced Berrett as the Mariners looked for more pace in a bid to get something from the game as a reward for a positive second-half display.
Gowling was booked for a foul on the halfway line as Bolton looked to launch an attack, with Bogle following him into the referee’s notebook soon afterwards.
The yellow card was out again on 82 minutes, with Bolton’s Andrew Taylor the man to be penalised for a foul on Bolarinwa.
Town’s final substitution saw Jackson come on for Bogle with seven minutes remaining and Town still chasing an elusive equaliser.
Dean Moxey replaced Alex Perry for Bolton soon afterwards and his first real involvement was to take a free kick that eventually led to Ameobi sending a weak shot through to McKeown.
The Mariners were still pushing forward and a shot from Vernon was turned behind for a corner by Howard with two minutes to go, with the keeper then claiming a catch from the flag-kick.
Four added minutes gave Town more time to press for that leveller and they continued to push forward, with a cross from Gowling headed clear and a low ball from Bolarinwa dived on by the keeper.
Disley had Grimsby’s last chance but he could not hit the target from 25 yards and Bolton saw the remainder of the game out to book their place in the second round.
It meant the Mariners went out at the first hurdle but there were plenty of positives to take from an encouraging performance against higher-ranked opposition.
Town are next in action on Wednesday, when Sheffield United visit Blundell Park in the Checkatrade Trophy.