A strong Grimsby Town side passed their latest pre-season test with flying colours as they put four goals past Alfreton Town at the Impact Arena.
On a sweltering afternoon in Derbyshire, the Mariners took the lead through John McAtee on 16 minutes and doubled their advantage when Luke Waterfall headed home from a Jordan Maguire-Drew free kick.
After a raft of substitutions midway through the second half, Stephen Wearne made it 3-0, before Aaron Braithwaite rounded off the scoring with a late fourth to complete what had been an excellent workout.
Max Crocombe started in goal for Town, behind a back four of Michee Efete, Waterfall, Shaun Pearson and Anthony Glennon. Maguire-Drew, Gavan Holohan, Bryn Morris and Harry Clifton were the midfielders, with McAtee supporting Danilo Orsi in attack.
Giles Coke, Danny Amos, Jordan Cropper, Braithwaite, Ollie Battersby, Evan Khouri, Edwin Essel, Jamie Bramwell, Jaz Goundry, Harvey Tomlinson and Wearne were all named as substitutes.
Alfreton, who finished ninth in last season’s National League North, included former Grimsby defender Scott Garner in their starting XI after he rejoined the Reds from Boston United as one of eight summer signings so far for manager Billy Heath.
The hosts had the first opening a a long throw from Adam Lund was flicked towards goal but the ball ran through to Crocombe.
Town’s first chance fell for Clifton on six minutes, although his powerful drive from the edge of the penalty area was tipped over the bar by home keeper George Willis for the game’s first corner, which was cleared.
The first substitution came soon afterwards as the home side were forced into an early change, with new signing Tom Denton replacing former Lincoln striker Matt Rhead up front.
A cross from Maguire-Drew dropped wide of the far post on 10 minutes, before a foul on Maguire-Drew brought a free kick in a dangerous position on the right. The set-piece led to a shot from Holohan being deflected away for a corner and after the ball from the flag was only half-cleared, it was sent back into the box and McATEE pounced with a cushioned volley to open the scoring.
Alfreton’s response saw them earn a corner on the right and Garner won the header from it but could not trouble Crocombe as the ball sailed over the bar.
The Mariners went close to doubling their advantage on 20 minutes when a cross from Maguire-Drew on the right was met by Holohan at the far post but his header was brilliantly stopped by Willis, who pushed the ball away for a corner.
A foul on McAtee brought a Town free kick midway inside the Alfreton half four minutes later and from it, they made it 2-0 as Maguire-Drew’s delivery was met by WATERFALL, who guided a header past Willis and into the net.
McAtee was denied by the offside flag as the Mariners attacked again, before Clifton was brought down midway inside the Alfreton half to earn another free kick. Waterfall went down inside the box when it was taken but the referee waved play on.
A corner at the other end was dealt with by the away defence, then Clifton sent a shot over the bar from Town’s next attack.
Glennon won a corner when his left-wing cross was blocked on 39 minutes and it eventually led to another one on the opposite flank. This time, Maguire-Drew curled the ball past the far post.
No further chances came before the half-time whistle as Town remained in full control and they went in with a two-goal advantage at the break.
The same XI came out to start the second half for the Mariners but the home side made the stronger start, with Bailey Hobson curling a shot over the bar from 20 yards.
Glennon won a corner on the left after chasing down a ball from McAtee and Maguire-Drew’s delivery from the flag was headed behind for another one. This time, Denton headed clear.
McAtee looked for Orrsi with a low cross from the right son afterwards but a vital interception took it away from the striker for a corner, which was headed clear.
Lewis Whitham replaced Brad Dockerty for Alfreton on 56 minutes, before Hobson missed the target with a long-range strike after good play by Dwayne Wiley.
A low strike by Whitham was comfortable for Crocombe, then McAtee tried an audacious lob attempt on the turn after being picked out by Maguire-Drew but Willis got back and reached up to make the catch.
Town boss Paul Hurst made five substitutions on 68 minutes, with Amos, Cropper, Wearne, Khouri and Battersby replacing Glennon, Waterfall, Morris, McAtee and Crocombe.
Orsi had the ball in the net four minutes later but was denied by a late offside flag, before Alfreton swapped their goalkeepers as Jake Askew replaced Willis.
And Askew was beaten on 76 minutes as Town made it 3-0 when the ball fell for WEARNE and he finished well from close range.
More substitutions came two minutes later, as Coke, Bramwell, Braithwaite, Tomlinson, Essel and Goundry were sent on, with Holohan, Maguire-Drew, Clifton, Pearson, Efete and Orsi all coming off.
And BRAITHWAITE got himself on the scoresheet on 84 minutes, converting from close range after Amos pulled the ball back across goal from the left.
Battersby was called into action to stop a shot from Fraser Preston with a minute to go and after the follow-up shot hit the side-netting, it proved to be the home side’s final opportunity to grab a consolation goal.
That meant Town sealed a clean sheet to cap what had been a good afternoon’s work and they will continue to step up their preparations for the season ahead when they welcome Lincoln City to Blundell Park for their next friendly on Tuesday.