GRIMSBY Town failed to make it three wins on the spin as they were beaten by Hartlepool United at Blundell Park.
Padraig Amond was the hero for the visitors as his two first-half goals on his first return to Cleethorpes put them in command after Town had made a promising start, despite losing Ashley Chambers to injury early in the game.
The hosts put pressure on the Hartlepool goal after the break as they looked to find a way back into the game but their hopes were killed off when Nathan Thomas scored the away side’s third with a superb chip.
Town played some good football at times but were punished by their visitors, who were more clinical in attack and took their chances well.
One change was made to the Grimsby starting line-up after Tuesday’s victory over Newport, with Shaun Tuton replacing Kayden Jackson in attack.
James McKeown began in goal, with Ben Davies, Shaun Pearson, Danny Collins and Danny Andrew in defence.
Chambers, Luke Summefield, Brandon Comley and Dominic Vose formed the midfield, with Tuton selected alongside Omar Bogle up front.
Jackson dropped to the substitutes’ bench, where he was joined by Josh Gowling, Zak Mills, James Berrett, Tom Bolarinwa, Scott Vernon and Dean Henderson.
The Hartlepool XI featured two names very familiar to Mariners fans, with Amond and Toto Nsiala making their first returns to Blundell Park after both played a huge part in the club’s return to the Football League last season before moving to the north-east.
The visitors won the first corner after an attempted shot was blocked and Lewis Allessandra’s follow-up cross was cut out. The ball from the flag was cleared.
After receiving lengthy treatment on the pitch, the winger was carried off on a stretcher and replaced by Bolarinwa. Town’s first attack came on three minutes and saw Vose play a great cross-field ball to Chambers, who was caught by a challenge as he controlled the ball and went down with what appeared to be a serious injury.
The initial kick was half-cleared and Davies’ follow-up cross led to a free kick to Hartlepool for a foul. When play resumed, the free kick for the foul on Chambers was taken by Bogle and his shot bounced in front of visiting keeper Trevor Carson, who could only push it out for a corner.
A Davies cross from the right was blocked for another corner on 11 minutes but defender Jordan Richards got to Davies’ delivery ahead of Pearson and headed it clear.
And Town’s promising start continued when Bolarinwa won a further flag-kick on the right, although it was also headed away from danger.
This time, Vose’s ball from the left was glanced away for a throw-in before Pearson could connect with a header. It was a game of Grimsby corners so far and they had another when a Davies cross was headed behind.
Bolarinwa had the home supporters on their feet when he turned and set off on a purposeful run into the Hartlepool penalty area on 20 minutes, although his low shot was stopped by Carson.
Midfielder Josh Laurent could not take advantage after picking up the loose ball though, instead chipping a cross into the grateful arms of the Town keeper. Attacks by the visitors had not been as frequent but they were given an opportunity after a mistake by McKeown.
The effort from Allessandra hit the post and that man AMOND was in the right place at the right time – as he was so often in the colours of the Mariners last term – to put the loose ball into the net. Allessandra did all of the hard work, running at the Town defence and evading the challenge of Summerfield on the edge of the box to get a shot away. Town were not so lucky the next time the visitors went forward though, as Hartlepool opened the scoring.
As the smoke from a device set off among the away supporters drifted across Blundell Park, Grimsby’s response saw them win a corner on the right, although they were unable to turn it into a goalscoring opportunity.
Instead, the ball was worked down to the other end of the pitch and Collins had to make a good challenge inside his own penalty area to stop the visitors from getting another shot on goal.
Vose won a corner when he played the ball off Richards, who was in the right place to head the winger’s delivery clear.
Soon afterwards, Andrew had to get a vital foot in to stop Amond from having a clear run towards the Town box, before a long-range shot from Thomas proved comfortable for McKeown.
A great cross from the left fell perfectly for AMOND, who glanced a free header past McKeown and into the net. The away side were starting to get on top and they made it 2-0 on 36 minutes.
Amond was put through again soon afterwards but this time, the offside flag came to Grimsby’s rescue.
Bolarinwa was the architect as he set off on a run through the middle before squaring for Summerfield, who narrowly missed the target from 20 yards. Town went in search of a way back into the game and they were not far from getting on the scoresheet two minutes after Amond’s second goal.
Davies’ resulting corner was headed on by Bogle but Tuton could not turn it into the net at the near post. A foul by Tuton on Nsiala earned the striker a talking-to from referee Christopher Sarginson, before a shot from Andrew led to a great save from Carson, who tipped the ball over his bar.
After an encouraging start to the game by the hosts, it was Hartlepool who were in control as five added minutes were signalled by the fourth official.
A foul on Bogle gave Town a free kick in a dangerous position in the last of the added minutes but the club’s leading scorer could not turn it into a goal as his shot missed the target.
That meant Hartlepool retained their two-goal advantage at the half-time whistle, with the Mariners having a lot to do to get back into the contest after the break.
He got to the by-line but was adjudged to have run the ball out of play as he looked to cross. No changes were made before the restart and Hartlepool were the first to create anything of note in the second half, with the ball being worked to Allessandra on the right.
The ball eventually came to Bolarinwa but his shot went across goal and out for a goal kick. A foul on Bogle on the halfway line gave Town a free kick but after it was taken quickly to Summerfield, Andrew made his way into the box but could not pick out a team-mate.
He then found Bogle, who placed a shot just wide of Carson’s target. The Mariners went close again after a great ball from Andrew to Bolarinwa.
The ball then bounced around the six-yard box and Bolarinwa saw an effort blocked by the keeper, who then made another superb save from the rebound, before the ball was eventually cleared. Vose pulled the ball back for Bogle and his shot rebounded for Tuton, who was kept out by Carson. Soon afterwards, Town were almost on the scoreboard several times in a crazy few seconds.
The Mariners pressure was building and Davies won a corner on the right on 56 minutes, although the ball from the flag was headed away at the near post.
At the other end, Laurent did not get the connection he would have wanted on a volley, which bounced harmlessly through to McKeown.
But an away corner came moments later after Andrew got to a ball from Nicky Deverdics ahead of Amond, although it caused no problems for the Town defence.
The ball was worked to THOMAS and he hit a superbly-executed chip over McKeown from 20 yards which nestled in the net for 3-0. After Town had again made a promising start to the half, Hartlepool had begun to take control again and they made certain of the three points with a brilliant third goal on the hour.
Davies’ delivery to the 18-yard line was headed clear, with Collins then being penalised for a foul. Bogle tried a shot which drifted wide of the far post on 66 minutes, before a foul on Bolarinwa gave the Mariners a free kick inside the Hartlepool half.
Vose forced Carson into action when he fired a low effort from 20 yards after a run through the middle but the keeper dived to his right to make the stop.
Tuton sent a shot wide after running across the penalty area and it proved to be his last contribution of note as he was replaced by Vernon as part of a double substitution which also saw Berrett come on for Vose.
Hartlepool also made a change at the same time, with Brad Fewster being introduced in place of Thomas.
He took on the shot instead of looking to Laurent to his left and McKeown dived to make a save. The away side had a good chance to make it 4-0 on 78 minutes when a through-ball found Allessandra.
Scott Harrison also came on for Deverdics at the same time. Amond was not to be given the chance to complete his hat-trick as he was taken off with a little under 10 minutes to go, to applause from all four stands, to be replaced by Billy Paynter.
Three minutes of added time were played at the end of the game, with Hartlepool able to see out the remainder of the contest to ensure a clean sheet as the Mariners, try as they might, failed to score for only the second time this season.
Town are next in action on Tuesday, when Leicester City’s development squad visit Blundell Park in the Checkatrade Trophy.