THE DELAYED arrival of the Grimsby Town team coach may have caused their FA Trophy tie at Nuneaton to kick off 90 minutes later than expected but that didn’t hamper Paul Hurst’s men as they strolled to a 2-0 victory over their Conference rivals.
Accidents on the M180 and M1 meant that the two-hour trip to the Midlands was doubled and the Mariners arrived in time to see the game kick-off at 4.15pm.
Despite hindering their preparations, the visitors were soon into their stride and they deservedly booked a place in Round Two thanks to goals in either half by Jon-Paul Pittman and Jack Mackreth.
Danny Parslow slotted in at centre half for the Mariners, with Toto Nsiala sitting out as he is one booking away from a two-match ban. Otherwise Hurst lined up with a 4-4-2 formation that saw Aswad Thomas return at left back and Pittman continue to partner top scorer Lennell John-Lewis up front.
The first warning sign for the hosts came within 30 seconds of the kick-off. Pittman advanced at will and thundered in a shot that crashed off the crossbar.
John-Lewis had two good chances to open the scoring inside the first 10 minutes. His first effort was superbly parried at the near post by home stopper Chris Dibble, following an excellent cross from Nathan Arnold.
The Mariners kept the pressure going and Scott Brown this time fed John-Lewis but the striker placed his effort wide with just Dibble to beat.
It took 25 minutes for the opener to arrive and it came in fine fashion from Pittman. Carl Magnay advanced down the right and crossed for the former Wycombe man to swivel and place his effort into the bottom corner.
Town were fully in their stride now and only last-ditch defending from Nuneaton kept Arnold and Craig Disley picking out Pittman for a sure-fire second, before Scott Brown sent a low drive whistling just past the upright.
The game approached half-time with the home side offering little in attack and it was the Mariners who looked likeliest to add to their tally, Shaun Pearson narrowly heading over from an Arnold corner on 41 minutes.
In the second half it was much of the same as Magnay this time rose to meet an Arnold centre but sent his header past the near post from eight yards; John-Lewis doing likewise with 12 minutes of the half gone.
The only concern for manager Hurst was Disley hobbling out of play to be replaced by Craig Clay, just as Arnold kept the pressure on with a thumping 25-yard shot that rocked the stanchion behind the goal.
Instead it was to get worse for the hosts as Gareth Dean dragged down the onrushing John-Lewis in the final third. The Nuneaton defender was the last man and had to walk but from the resulting free kick the game would take an even more dramatic twist,
Dibble did well to keep out Thomas’ set piece, colliding with the post in the process. That forced the goalkeeper off and with no substitute stopper, midfielder James Armison had to don the gloves.
And Town took full advantage of that, John-Lewis testing the woodwork again with a 20-yard effort before the former Bury man fluffed his lines when played clear by Pittman.
But the second goal did arrive with 15 minutes on the clock. Pittman was again involved, picking out the run of Mackreth, and he calmly side-stepped Armison before rolling into the empty net.
Ross Hannah and new loan signing Nicky Walker were given a run-out in the final ten minutes as the Mariners eased to victory.
The home side’s only real effort of note came with four minutes left of the game as Thomas hacked off his own goal-line as a shot from Anton Brown sneaked through a crowd of players.