Grimsby Town produced one of their best performances of the season as they came from behind to record an emphatic victory over Chesterfield at the Technique Stadium.
After an early Laurence Maguire header put the hosts ahead, two goal of the season contenders from John McAtee and Gavan Holohan saw the Mariners turn the scoreline around in spectacular fashion.
Harry Clifton doubled Town’s advantage five minutes into the second half, before Ryan Taylor made certain of the points with a fourth goal 12 minutes from time in front of a raucous away end packed with 1,718 travelling fans.
And in scoring four goals against fellow promotion contenders, the visitors sent out a real statement of intent and set the standard for the rest of the campaign as their play-off push gained further momentum.
Joey Jones came in for his debut after joining the Mariners on loan from Dagenham and Redbridge prior to last week’s home win against the Daggers. He replaced Sean Scannell in the only change to the Town starting XI following that victory.
Max Crocombe started in goal, with Jordan Cropper, Andy Smith, Luke Waterfall and Danny Amos forming the defence. Jordan Maguire-Drew, Holohan, Jones and Clifton were the midfielders, with McAtee supporting Taylor in attack.
Scannell was named on the bench, along with Shaun Pearson, Ben Fox, Tristan Abrahams and Emmanuel Dieseruvwe.
Chesterfield were unchanged from their draw with Notts County last time out, with former Mariners striker Akwase Asante named in the starting line-up and ex-Town midfielder Gavin Gunning among the substitutes.
Paul Cook’s Spireites were looking for a win which would see them move back up to second in the National League table with Wrexham in FA Trophy action, while the visitors were aiming for a victory which would keep them in the play-off places.
A foul on Holohan gave Town an early free kick near the halfway line but after Maguire-Drew’s delivery to the edge of the box was headed on for Taylor, he could only drag a low shot wide.
At the other end, a good block by Cropper stopped Calvin Miller from fully connecting with a cross, before the first corner of the game led to another when a drive from Tom Whelan was blocked. This time, it led to the opening goal as after the ball was played short from the flag, it was crossed by Tom Whelan for the unmarked MAGUIRE and he had the simple task of heading home from close range.
Town were forced to do some defending after the goal as the hosts poured forward in search of more, although the Mariners should have had an equaliser on 10 minutes when a low ball from Cropper on the right fell for Maguire-Drew, although he could only lift it over the bar from six yards.
A cross from Amos on the left was headed clear, before Holohan saw a low effort blocked after a good run through the middle by McAtee.
Taylor then headed wide after a cross from Maguire-Drew on the right as Town kept attacking in search of a leveller.
Waterfall was penalised for a shirt-pull on Asante on 18 minutes, before a long throw into the box from Cropper was cleared.
Another long throw found McAtee but he could not get enough on his shot to beat Chesterfield keeper Scott Loach, who got down to make a comfortable stop.
After the shock of falling behind, Town had recovered well and at the midway point of the half, they were playing the better football.
A Chesterfield corner from Miller on the left was comfortably cleared, before the Mariners got the equaliser their efforts had richly deserved on 27 minutes. McATEE was the man to level the scores after picking the ball up in a central position and letting fly from distance with a thunderbolt which flew past Loach and into the net for 1-1.
Just four minutes later, the turnaround was complete as Town hit the front with an arguably even better goal. This time, it was HOLOHAN who got the ball on the right and arrowed a spectacular shot into the top corner to register his first goal for the club.
A cross from McAtee on the right was just too far ahead of Taylor as the away side went forward again.
The Mariners were in full control as half-time approached and they won their first corner on 40 minutes when another Holohan shot from distance was deflected behind. Maguire-Drew’s flag-kick was headed clear.
Clifton was crowded out inside the box after being found by Maguire-Drew, before a rare home attack was thwarted by Cropper and Saidou Khan headed over the bar soon afterwards.
Chesterfield were starting to come back into the game and they had an opportunity to create danger with a free kick on the left on 45 minutes. Jeff King’s delivery from it was good but the ball ended up with Crocombe after being headed into the air.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the first half and in the first of them, a foul on Maguire-Drew brought a Grimsby free kick midway inside the home half. Maguire-Drew took it and sent the ball to the far post but Waterfall was penalised after colliding with keeper Loach.
Smith then headed over the bar from another Cropper long throw in what was the last action of the half, with the Mariners taking a deserved lead in with them at the break after recovering brilliantly following Chesterfield’s early goal.
No changes were made before the restart and an early foul by Holohan gave the hosts a free kick inside the Town half, although it was cleared. Chesterfield retained possession and eventually worked the ball to King on the right but nobody could connect with his driven cross.
Miller fired straight at Crocombe from the edge of the box four minutes in, before the Mariners stretched their advantage a minute later, as a cross from the right picked out the unmarked CLIFTON and he headed across goal and into the net off the far post to make it 3-1.
Taylor had a chance to make it four soon afterwards after McAtee drove through the middle and slipped the ball to the striker. This time, the shot was blocked for a corner and from the flag, the Mariners kept their hosts pinned inside their own penalty area until the whistle blew for a foul on Loach as Taylor turned a loose ball into the net.
Clifton saw a shot blocked after a run through the middle as the visitors continued to dominate, then McAtee forced Loach to dive and make a stop after beating the offside trap.
The home side made a double-substitution on 57 minutes as Joe Quigley and Manny Oyeleke replaced Khan and Whelan.
A Chesterfield corner came soon afterwards but it was cleared from danger, before an Asante header was blocked after he met a cross from Liam Mandeville on the right.
A fierce drive from Quigley was blocked for a home corner and from it, Quigley’s header was blocked for another one, which was cleared.
Scannell replaced Maguire-Drew in Town’s first change on 64 minutes, before a home free kick from King was headed clear by Waterfall.
A cross from King was well claimed by Crocombe, then a stoppage came for Smith to receive treatment after going down injured. He was passed fit to continue.
McAtee had the ball in the net on 68 minutes but the whistle had already gone for offside against the attacker.
A well-worked corner at the other end then saw Asante hit the post after attempting to place a low shot into the bottom corner of the net as Town were given a reminder that the points were not yet safe.
Clifton was spoken to by the referee after a foul but escaped further punishment, before another free kick was glanced wide after the ball was sent into the box by King.
A further free kick from King on the right ended with the ball in Crocombe’s arms after Jamie Grimes had headed the ball down at the far post.
But soon afterwards, the result was put beyond doubt as the Mariners made it 4-1. McAtee got the ball on the right and after the offside flag stayed down, he squared it for TAYLOR, who produced a low, clinical finish to beat Loach.
Fox replaced McAtee for the last 11 minutes and a shot by King was pushed away by Crocombe as Chesterfield looked for an unlikely route back into a contest which had now gone beyond their reach.
Joe Rowley replaced Miller in the home side’s final substitution, before Dieseruvwe was sent on in place of Taylor for Town with four minutes left to play.
Dieseruvwe could have made it 5-1 after the game moved into four added minutes as he created a chance inside the box but saw his shot from a narrow angle blocked for a corner.
A foul on Clifton gave Town another opportunity to see the remainder of the game out and the full-time whistle brought further celebrations among the Town fans as they hailed a fantastic victory.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when they make the long trip to Weymouth.