Grimsby Town were beaten despite a good team performance against Colchester United at the JobServe Community Stadium.
The Mariners, playing in front of a crowd for the first time since March 7, fell behind when New Zealand international Tommy Smith opened the scoring with an early goal.
But they responded well and were deservedly level through Luke Hendrie’s second goal in two games.
Town were the better team for long periods of the game but the hosts regained the advantage when Callum Harriott struck four minutes before the hour.
And despite a late onslaught, the away side were unable to force a second equaliser as Colchester held out, thanks to a number of great blocks.
Three changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI after the home defeat by Exeter City in midweek, with Mattie Pollock, Kyle Bennett and Owen Windsor coming in for Duncan Idehen, Harry Clifton and Matt Green.
Goalkeeper James McKeown was behind a defence of Hendrie, Pollock, Luke Waterfall and Danny Preston, with Elliott Hewitt and Danny Rose acting as holding midfielders.
Sean Scannell, Bennett and Owura Edwards formed a trio ahead of them, with Owen Windsor leading the line in attack.
Idehen and Clifton were both named on the bench, along with Ollie Battersby, Joe Starbuck, Terry Taylor, George Williams and Montel Gibson.
Colchester gave a debut to 16-year-old right-back Junior Tchamadeu, while captain Smith returned to their line-up.
Pollock was shown the first yellow card of the game with less than two minutes on the clock after stopping the progress of Jevani Brown as he broke down the home right, although the resulting free kick led only to an offside decision.
Callum Harrott fired harmlessly off-target after cutting in from the right, before a low cross from Scannell at the other end was cleared.
Bennett won the first corner on five minutes but the ball from the flag was punched clear by home keeper Dean Gerken. Town kept possession and looked to build up another attack, which ended with a goal kick after the ball was played too far ahead of Windsor.
A cross from Luke Gambin was blocked by Hendrie for a corner on eight minutes and from it, the hosts took the lead. The ball from the flag was not dealt with by the Town defence and instead, SMITH squeezed it past McKeown and into the net off the post.
Town’s response saw Bennett play a good ball to Windsor on the left on 16 minutes but after it was worked into the penalty area to meet the run of Preston, the left-back went down as the ball ran out for a goal kick.
A foul on Windsor gave the Mariners a free kick on the right but when the initial ball into the box was headed away, Hewitt’s attempt from 30 yards went well wide of Gerken’s target.
Town had a great opportunity to level the scores a minute later after Bennett and Edwards linked up down the right. Edwards’ low ball across the penalty area found Windsor but his shot was well-blocked by the keeper.
But from the resulting corner, the away side did get their equaliser. The delivery from Rose was met by HENDRIE at the near post and he flicked the ball back across goal and into the net.
A foul by Rose gave Colchester a free kick midway inside the Town half, although it caused no problems as the ball from it was floated straight into McKeown’s arms.
The home side looked to have a chance when a long ball found Harriott but after he made his way into the box, he was stopped by a good challenge from Preston, with the referee waving away appeals for a penalty.
Brown volleyed over the bar from 20 yards after getting in behind the Town centre-backs to meet a long ball, before a home free kick was well-defended.
Town’s next attack saw Edwards break down the right and he did well to make progress before crossing towards the far post, although neither Scannell nor Windsor could get enough on the ball to trouble Gerken.
Scannell went down with an injury as the game moved into one minute of added time and was unable to continue, with Williams coming on in his place.
No further chances came before the half-time whistle so the scores remained level at the break after the Mariners had responded well to going a goal down.
After a scrappy opening to the second half, Town’s first attack of note since the restart came through Edwards on the right after getting to the edge of the box, he could not pick out a team-mate and the ball deflected through to Gerken.
A cross from the Colchester left was pushed away by McKeown but the next time the hosts attacked, they reclaimed their advantage. HARRIOTT cut inside from the right onto his left foot, beat Preston and Rose and then found the net with a low shot from 12 yards.
Gambin was booked for bringing Edwards down as he ran down the right on 63 minutes and Williams’ resulting free kick was tipped over the bar by Gerken. Bennett’s corner from the left was flicked on at the near post before being cleared.
Town kept the pressure up and Windsor had a chance soon afterwards, hitting a volley into the ground at the far post which was deflected behind for another corner.
As seen in the first half, the Mariners’ response to falling behind had been positive as they kept looking for a second equaliser.
But a chance for Colchester to put the ball into the danger zone came when Hendrie was penalised for a foul on the home left. The free kick fell for Cohen Bramall but his header went just wide.
At the other end, Rose could not find the target with a shot from inside the box after good work by Windsor on the left.
A superb delivery by Bennett from a free kick on the Town right on 70 minutes dropped for Waterfall but he could only divert it over the bar from close range.
Another free kick came soon afterwards, this time on the left after a foul on Williams, although Preston’s delivery was too close to Gerken and the keeper claimed a comfortable catch.
A cross from Courtney Senior was headed behind for a corner by Preston, with McKeown claiming the ball from the flag.
Hendrie dragged a low shot wide of the near post, before Gibson replaced Bennett with 14 minutes to go.
Luke Norris sliced an effort over the bar after a cross from the Colchester left was not fully dealt with.
Michael Folivi came on in place of Brown for the hosts with 10 minutes remaining, before a foul on Gibson gave Town a free kick midway inside the Colchester half. The ball from it was dealt with by the home defence after it was initially met by Waterfall.
Taylor replaced Pollock before a Hewitt long throw and after the ball was not fully cleared, Town worked it back into the box, where a shot from Taylor with his first touch was blocked.
Edwards and Windsor seemed to get in each other’s way as another opening looked to have been created seconds later, then an effort by Windsor from inside the box was blocked after the ball dropped to him from a free kick.
The visitors were piling the pressure on as they looked for a deserved leveller but Colchester were defending well to protect their lead.
A shot by Gibson was blocked for a corner after a clever back-heel by Windsor, then another attack ended when Gerken came off his line bravely to beat Hewitt to a great ball from Gibson.
Yet another block came when Hendrie fired towards goal after a low ball from Williams, before Rose hit the rebound over the bar.
Omar Sowunmi replaced Norris as Colchester looked to an extra defender to help them see the game out.
Four added minutes gave the Mariners further opportunity to find a goal and a foul on Gibson gave them a free kick on the edge of the box. Williams’ ball from it was headed away and Rose’s return delivery went through to Gerken.
The away side kept attacking and they won another corner in the last minute of stoppage time but with McKeown up, the ball was headed over the bar at the near post.
That proved to be Town’s last chance to get themselves level as the home side held on for all three points.
The Mariners are back in action on Tuesday, when they host Newport County at Blundell Park.
- Dean Gerken
- Junior Tchamadeu
- Cohen Bramall
- Tom Eastman
- Tommy Smith (C)
- Noah Chilvers
- Callum Harriott
- Luke Gambin
- Jevani Brown
- Courtney Senior
- Luke Norris
- Shamal George
- Omar Sowunmi
- Marley Marshall Miranda
- Kwame Poku
- Miquel Scarlett
- Joshua Bohui
- Michael Folivi
- James McKeown (C)
- Luke Hendrie
- Danny Preston
- Luke Waterfall
- Matthew Pollock
- Elliott Hewitt
- Sean Scannell
- Danny Rose
- Kyle Bennett
- Owura Edwards
- Owen Windsor
- Ollie Battersby
- Duncan Idehen
- Harry Clifton
- Joseph Starbuck
- Terry Taylor
- George Williams
- Montel Gibson
Referee: Lee Swabey
Next Up: Newport County (H)