LINCOLN City came from behind to complete a derby double over Grimsby Town in the 2014/15 Conference Premier – eventually running out 3-1 winners at Blundell Park.
It had all looked so good for the Mariners before that as Craig Disley netted his fourth goal in five games against the Imps to put the hosts ahead.
But the game swung on two City strikes on the stroke of half time. Charlee Adams’ long-range stunner was followed by Alan Power’s tap-in and former Mariner Marcus Marshall netted the third in the second period to send the points back down the A46.
Town boss Paul Hurst welcomed back Carl Magnay into the fold for the derby. He replaced the suspended Toto Nsiala in a back four that saw Danny Parslow revert to centre half alongside Shaun Pearson and Aswad Thomas continued at left back.
Hurst also freshened things up in midfield with Craig Clay and Scott Neilson replacing Scott Brown and Jack Mackreth respectively.
The hosts started the game on the front foot with Clay seeing a speculative effort from distance blocked before goalkeeper Paul Farman was alert to gather as Jon-Paul Pittman looked to pounce on a long clearance.
But the first warning sign came from the visitors on eight minutes. A deep free kick worked its way through to Hamza Bencherif, who earned the Imps the three points in the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign, but his shot was smartly turned around his near post by Mariners’ stopper James McKeown.
Instead it was the Mariners who seized the initiative on 20 minutes. Neilson was probing in midfield when he went down off the ball. That seemed to unsettle the Imps’ defence, who inexplicably presented Pittman with the ball. The striker looked up and picked out the run of Disley, who planted a firm header beyond Farman from eight yards for his customary goal against Town’s county rivals.
The hosts’ skipper was then booked for a late challenge on Delano Sam-Yorke – the on-loan Cambridge man looking to spark a City response with a clever flick from Ben Tomlinson’s cross that ended well wide of the target.
Neilson’s afternoon ended on 26 minutes as he was replaced by Mackreth. The former Bradford man never recovering from the knock he picked up in the build-up to the goal.
But the home side continued to press as they searched for a second. John-Lewis released Pittman with a fine ball as the game approached the half hour. The striker streaked into the area and clipped a ball to the far post for Mackreth but it was just too high for the diminutive winger.
Pittman was at the heart of everything for the Mariners and he came close to doubling the lead on 31 minutes as he tried to fire home Parslow’s knockdown following a Nathan Arnold corner.
The former Wycombe man was alert to beat Nat Brown to a loose ball three minutes later and he dug out another superb cross for Mackreth, who nodded wide on the stretch at the far post.
Then, two minutes before the break the Imps were given a spectacular lifeline back into the game.
They forged a good opening on the left side that Sam-Yorke failed to take advantage of but the Imps kept the ball moving and McKeown had to be at full stretch to turn a 25-yard Sean Newton effort around the post.
From the corner the Imps were level though. The Mariners looked to clear their lines as a header reached Adams, 35 yards from goal, but he launched a crashing half volley past McKeown and into the top corner – it was a real bolt from the blue for a Mariners’ side that had looked so comfortable before that.
And it was to get worse two minutes later. Thomas bombed forward but the ball from Arnold was cut out and that left Town exposed at the back. Marshall slipped in Jake Caprice in the right channel and he squared for Alan Power to sweep home at the far post. The Imps had somehow found themselves in front at the break.
There was worse to come for Hurst as Magnay was deemed unable to continue at the break – his replacement being former Newport man Paul Bignot.
Within five minutes of the restart the Imps had the ball in the net for a third time but Sam-Yorke was ruled offside from former Mariner Arnaud Mendy’s pull back.
McKeown was then called upon again to keep out another dipping, long-range effort from Newton.
The game was becoming stretched as the hour mark passed. Clay split the City defence with a lovely through ball for Pittman. The striker twisted and turned to work an opening but saw Farman stand up well to keep the shot out with his legs.
It should have been 3-1 on 63 minutes though. The Imps broke five-on-two from a Town attack. Tomlinson found himself in space on the edge of the box and he thundered an effort against the crossbar with Marshall only able to steer the rebound wide of the target with the goal gaping.
Pittman again turned provider, this time on the left for Arnold, but Newton got across to slide in with a last-ditch challenge and keep the visitors’ in front.
A third City goal did arrive on 69 minutes. Town switched off looking for a free kick and that allowed Caprice to advance again and cross for Marshall to tap-in from point-blank range.
It was an uphill task for the Mariners now and they were not helped by an inspired display from Farman in the Imps’ goal. The ‘keeper got down well to deny Parslow following an Arnold free kick and then thwarted Pittman again after the striker had slalomed his way into the penalty area.
And when Farman was beaten, the Mariners found City defenders back to cover on the line. Twice in a matter of seconds for John-Lewis as first Brown and then Bencherif hacked a pair of goalbound shots away.
To add further salt into the wound for the Mariners, Clay was the third home player forced off through injury in the closing stages – his replacement being Paddy McLaughlin.
The victory marks the Imps’ first success at Blundell Park since Simon Yeo netted a hat trick in a 4-2 win ten years ago.
Mariners: McKeown; Magnay (Bignot), Parslow, Pearson, Thomas; Neilson (Mackreth), Disley, Clay (McLaughlin), Arnold; John-Lewis, Pittman. Subs not used: Hannah, Brown.
Imps: Farman; Caprice, Brown, Bencherif, Newton; Adams, Mendy (Nolan), Power, Marshall; Tomlinson (Burrow), Sam-Yorke. Subs not used: Townsend, Miller, Robinson.