A goal in each half sent Grimsby Town to defeat as they were beaten by Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
In a mid-table clash on Merseyside, the Mariners had opportunities to open the scoring but found themselves behind at the break after Josh Hawkes scored from the penalty spot following a foul by Gavan Holohan.
Tranmere doubled their advantage three minutes after the interval from a Rhys Hughes free kick and although they continued to create openings, Town were unable to force their way back into the contest.
Danilo Orsi was given a start after coming off the bench to score Grimsby’s winning goal against Barrow in midweek. His inclusion was one of five changes to the team that began the game against the Bluebirds at Blundell Park, with Luke Waterfall, Danny Amos, Holohan and Ryan Taylor also coming in as Andy Smith, Anthony Glennon, Evan Khouri, John McAtee and George Lloyd dropped out.
Max Crocombe started in goal, with Josh Emmanuel, Waterfall, Niall Maher and Amos forming the defence. Harry Clifton, Holohan, Kieran Green and Otis Khan were the midfielders, with Taylor alongside Orsi in attack.
Smith, Khouri, McAtee and Lloyd were all named among the substitutes, along with Michee Efete, Alex Hunt and Bryn Morris.
Tranmere started the game a point and a position behind the 12th-placed Mariners in the Sky Bet League Two table, with caretaker manager Ian Dawes looking for a victory to take his side back into the top half.
The home side won the game’s first corner on two minutes but after it was initially played short, right-back Josh Dacres-Cogley sent his cross beyond the far post.
Town’s first chance fell for Clifton after Emmanuel’s cross from the right but the midfielder’s volley hit Orsi and eventually went out for a goal kick.
Regan Hendry started an attack for Tranmere and continued his run to get the ball again inside the penalty area before going down under a challenge, although the referee waved play on.
Maher’s first long throw of the afternoon was headed clear, before a strike by Orsi was blocked and cleared as the visitors went forward again on nine minutes.
Another throw from the centre-back was dealt with as Tom Davies headed clear, while Newcastle United loanee Jay Turner-Cooke was posing an early threat for the hosts and he got down the right on 15 minutes before seeing his cross cleared.
Hawkes won a home corner three minutes later but Hendry’s delivery from the flag was punched clear by Crocombe, then a foul by Waterfall gave Tranmere a free kick in a central position, midway inside the Town half. Midfielder Hughes’ chip towards the far post was flicked back across goal by Davies but the ball was caught by Crocombe.
Town had a corner at the other end soon afterwards, although Amos’ ball from the right flag was cleared at the near post.
Another corner followed seconds later, this time on the left, and after Khan’s ball was flicked on by Green, it came back to the midfielder but he was unable to work an opening for a shot.
A cross from Clifton was cleared as a promising spell for the Mariners continued, with Emmanuel then cutting in from the right before hitting a shot which lacked power.
Orsi went close to opening the scoring on the half-hour when he got in between the two Tranmere centre-backs from a free kick but his close-range shot was saved by home keeper Mateusz Hewelt and the ball was then put behind for a corner.
Town were to be punished three minutes later when they gifted Tranmere a chance to break the deadlock. Hughes made his way into the box before being bundled over by Holohan and after the referee pointed to the penalty spot, HAWKES stepped up to beat Crocombe from 12 yards.
The Mariners’ response was good and there was almost an opportunity for Orsi but Clifton’s cross was intercepted before it could reach the striker.
A foul on Khan gave the visitors a free kick in a promising, right-of-centre position, but when Khan’s delivery fell for Waterfall at the far post, he could only volley into the side-netting from a narrow angle.
Taylor was brought down in a central position on 39 minutes but Khan’s free kick was straight at Hewelt, then a Clifton cross from the right was cut out as Town kept searching for an equaliser.
A cross from the home left was headed across goal and over the bar by Harvey Saunders, before a Town corner from the right was headed over the bar by Green.
Clifton did well to get down the right an send a low cross over as the game moved into one added minute, although the ball proved just too far ahead of the run of Orsi for him to make contact with it.
That proved to be the last opportunity for either side before the half-time whistle, with Hawkes’ penalty remaining as the difference between the two at the break.
No changes were made by either side ahead of the restart and an early cross from Khan was headed away after a short corner, then Emmanuel was adjudged to have brought Saunders down at the other end, near the left corner of the penalty area. And the resulting free kick saw the hosts make it 2-0 as HUGHES whipped the ball over the wall and beyond the dive of Crocombe at the near post.
A cross from Amos on the Grimsby left beat everybody and dropped out for a goal kick, before Crocombe had to make a good save to deny Hawkes, who had let fly from 25 yards. The keeper got a strong hand to the ball to push it over his bar for a corner, which was dealt with by the Town defence.
Maher headed over the bar from an Amos free kick, then Orsi was unable to get on the end of a cross from Emmanuel on the right as Town looked for a way back into the game.
Holohan fired just over the bar from the edge of the box after getting the ball from Clifton following some good hold-up play by Taylor on the hour.
Town kept pushing forward and they won a corner on the right soon afterwards, which led to Hewelt diving to save a shot from Clifton, although the referee had already blown for a Tranmere free kick.
Lee O’Connor replaced Turner-Cooke as the hosts made the first substitution on 62 minutes, before Emmanuel was given a warning by the referee following a foul on Hawkes. The resulting free kick from the left caused no problems.
Town had a great chance to halve their deficit when Taylor pulled the ball back for Clifton but the midfielder was unable to hit the target from six yards as his strike went wide of the far post.
McAtee and Lloyd replaced Taylor and Orsi on 66 minutes and there was a home penalty appeal soon afterwards as Saunders seemed to have been brought down by Maher, who was already on the ground after doing well to stop Kane Hemmings. The referee allowed play to go on and the ball was cleared from danger.
A foul on Lloyd gave Town a free kick near the right corner flag and earned defender Jordan Turnbull a yellow card. From it, the away side went close to pulling a ball back as Khan’s delivery to the far post was met by Maher but his header was kept out by Hewelt.
A curling strike by Saunders at the other end took a deflection on its way past the far post for a corner but the ball from the flag was brought clear after it had been flicked on.
Tranmere’s Jake Burton came on for Hughes and Hunt replaced Green in the Town midfield as both sides made a further change on 74 minutes.
McAtee fired just wide after working an opening for a shot from 20 yards, before Hunt set off on a strong run through the middle but McAtee was unable to control the ball when the midfielder pushed it into the box.
Crocombe then dived to make another good save and tip the ball away for a corner when a low effort by Hawkes looked to be heading for the bottom corner of the net.
Khouri and Efete replaced Amos and Emmanuel with seven minutes to go, before Saunders failed to connect with Burton’s low ball across the six-yard line as Tranmere missed an opportunity to put the result beyond doubt.
A corner at the other end was eventually cleared amid handball shouts from the travelling Town fans, then Florent Hoti came on for Hemmings in the home attack.
A cross from Efete on the right was nodded behind for a corner before the ball could reach Clifton but Khan’s delivery from the flag was flicked clear.
Hunt was booked for a late challenge on Dacres-Cogley as the game moved towards five minutes of added time.
Tranmere were looking for a third goal as they finished the match the stronger of the two teams but Hoti was denied by Crocombe, with the offside flag going up as the rebound was put wide.
Lloyd was booked after an altercation in the last of the added minutes as the game ended without any further goalmouth action.
Town will now aim to return to winning ways when they host Crewe Alexandra at Blundell Park on Tuesday.