Grimsby Town suffered a second consecutive defeat as they slipped to a 3-1 loss at Stevenage.
The Mariners were looking to bounce back after being beaten by Coventry City in their first home game of the season last week but first-half goals from Danny Newton and Jonathan Smith left them with a mountain to climb.
That task got even tougher when Sam Jones became the third Grimsby player to be sent off so far this season after an off-the-ball incident, before substitute Ben Kennedy made sure of Stevenage’s victory with a third goal five minutes after the hour.
Danny Collins pulled a goal back for the visitors with nine minutes to go but it proved only to be a consolation as the opening day success at Chesterfield remained as their only source of points so far this campaign.
Three changes were made to the Town side, with striker JJ Hooper given his first start, Zak Mills returning from suspension and Sam Kelly back in after recovering from injury.
James McKeown started in goal, with Mills, Nathan Clarke, Collins and Paul Dixon in defence.
Siriki Dembele, Luke Summerfield, Mitch Rose and Kelly were the midfielders, with Jones supporting Hooper in attack.
Ben Davies and Harry Cardwell were named on the bench after dropping out of the starting XI, with Ben Killip, Sean McAllister, Karleigh Osborne, Tom Bolarinwa and Diallang Jaiyesimi also selected as substitutes.
Stevenage’s main threat would be likely to come from former Scunthorpe striker Matt Godden, who finished last season with 21 goals.
Town started promisingly in possession but Stevenage had the first shot, although Godden’s effort was blocked for a throw-in.
Captain Ronnie Henry then hit a shot off-target after Town failed to get the ball clear, before Rose was fouled after making a good interception as the hosts attacked again on six minutes.
Rose was the first player to be booked after a foul four minutes later, although Joe Martin sent the resulting free kick into the Town fans gathered behind the goal.
Left-back Martin had a corner to take soon afterwards as the hosts continued to attack but centre-back Fraser Franks headed over the bar from the flag-kick.
At the other end, Jones hit a shot wide after play had been allowed to continue following a foul on Kelly.
Hooper tried a shot from 25 yards on 20 minutes but it lacked power and home keeper Joe Fyer made a comfortable stop.
Another moment of promise came with a run from Jones which was unfairly stopped just outside the box. Summerfield’s free kick went around the wall and was not held by Fryer, although the referee ruled the ball had not crossed the line before the keeper managed to get to it at the second attempt.
Dembele went down inside the penalty area on the half-hour as the Mariners attacked again but referee Scott Oldham waved play on.
Stevenage striker Danny Newton saw a shot from 25 yards saved by McKeown on 35 minutes.
But two minutes later, the keeper was left helpless as the home side took the lead out of nothing. As the Town defence stood off him, NEWTON lofted the ball over his shoulder and beyond McKeown into the net.
Newton missed another chance soon afterwards as Stevenage looked to double their lead before half-time.
And the pressure continued with a home corner after a cross from Henry was flicked away. The ball towards Newton at the far post was not fully dealt with but Godden’s overhead kick flew off-target.
Town were looking to get to the break with their deficit at just one goal but they could not manage it as the hosts increased their lead on the stroke of half-time. A free kick given for a foul by Dixon was not properly dealt with and SMITH was able to turn and fire into the net from inside the box.
Four added minutes were played at the end of the half, with a home corner cleared from danger in the third of them. That proved to be the last attacking opportunity before the interval, with Town facing a tough task in the second half to get anything from the game.
Cardwell and Bolarinwa were sent on in place of Hooper and Kelly for the Mariners before the restart and Smith escaped an early booking after a foul on Dembele.
Dembele won a corner five minutes in and after a short ball, the winger cut in and shot but could only watch it drift wide.
Bolarinwa had an effort which was stopped by keeper Fryer, before another corner came when a cross from Jones was not taken by the keeper. From the flag, the Town fans were appealing for a penalty for a handball against Dale Gorman but the referee gave no decision.
Soon afterwards, the Mariners were reduced to 10 men for the third time in three games so far this season when Jones was shown the red card for an off-the-ball incident involving Gorman.
Ben Kennedy replaced Alex Samuel as Stevenage made their first substitution just before the hour.
And the substitute did not have to wait long to be celebrating a goal, as he made it 3-0 on 65 minutes. KENNEDY got the ball outside the penalty area and fired a left-footed shot into the top corner to seal the points for the home side.
A Cardwell header went over the bar as Town looked for a consolation goal, before a shot by Tom Pett at the other end was stopped by McKeown.
Stevenage made a double substitution with 10 minutes to go as Mark McKee replaced Godden and Tom Conlon came on for Smith.
A minute later, the Mariners fans finally had something to cheer as their side got themselves on the scoresheet. A foul on Rose led to Gorman being booked and the free kick from Summerfield was met by COLLINS, who headed into the net for 3-1.
Jaiyesimi replaced Dembele in Town’s final substitution of the afternoon but despite Collins’ goal, the points were now lost.
Three added minutes were played and Stevenage were able to comfortably see the remainder of the game out to confirm their victory.
Town will now look ahead to Tuesday’s rearranged Carabao Cup first round clash with Derby County at Blundell Park.
Stevenage: Fryer,Henry, Wilkinson, Franks, J Martin,Samuel, Smith, Gorman, Pett, Godden, Newton.
Subs: Whelpdale, Beautyman, Kennedy, Day, Conlon, Vancooten, McKee.
Town: McKeown, Mills, Clarke, Collins, Dixon, Dembele, Rose, Summerfield, Jones, Hooper, Kelly.
Subs: Davies, McAllister, Osborne, Cardwell, Bolarinwa, Jaiyesimi, Killip.
Attendance: 2793 (770)
Referee: Scott Oldham
Assistants: Andrew Aylott, Christopher Wade
Fourth official: Kevin Howick