Ten-man Grimsby Town earned their first win of 2019 as they beat MK Dons at Blundell Park.
The Mariners took the lead when Wes Thomas scored what proved to be the only goal of the game but were dealt a blow when Harry Davis was shown a straight red card five minutes before the break.
The visitors pressed for an equaliser throughout the second half but were unable to find it as the Town defence held firm to cap an excellent performance with all three points.
Four changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI after Tuesday’s defeat by Forest Green Rovers, with Andrew Fox coming back into the side for one last time before departing for America on Monday.
Elliot Embleton, Martyn Woolford and Jordan Cook were also restored to the line-up as Sebastian Ring, Charles Vernam and Mitch Rose dropped out.
Sam Russell continued in goal in place of the suspended James McKeown, with Luke Hendrie, Davis, Ludvig Ohman, Joe Grayson and Fox forming a five-man defence.
Embleton, Jake Hessenthaler and Woolford were the midfielders, with Cook starting alongside Thomas in attack.
The substitutes were Reece Hall-Johnson, John Welsh, Mitch Rose, Ahkeem Rose, Vernam, Alex Whimore and Ollie Battersby.
After four defeats in all competitions in January so far, the Mariners were looking for their first win, goal and points of 2019 so far, while their visitors were also on a poor run of form which had seen them win just one of their last five games and slip out of League Two’s automatic promotion places.
Manager Paul Tisdale also made four changes to his side, while captain Dean Lewington was making his 700th appearance.
Town had the first attack of note on three minutes when Embleton picked a loose ball up in midfield and set off on a run but when he played a pass through for Thomas, the striker was caught offside.
A shot from Cook soon afterwards was caught by visiting keeper Lee Nicholls, before the away side’s first opening saw Ryan Watson curl a shot wide from 20 yards.
Ohman did well to stop Alex Gilbey on the edge of the box after the midfielder had made progress from the halfway line, before Lewington escaped with a warning after a late challenge on Hessenthaler on 19 minutes.
A strong run by Hendrie down the right saw him cut into the penalty area before eventually being stopped by a good challenge.
At the other end, a good attacking move led to a cross from the left which proved just too high for David Wheeler to be able to direct his header on-target.
A foul by Ohman on Kieran Agard earned the defender the first yellow card of the afternoon.
But with their next attack, the Mariners took the lead and ended their run without a goal. Hendrie sent a superb cross over from the right for THOMAS, whose header beat Nicholls.
Dons defender Jordan Moore-Taylor had to receive treatment twice in quick succession after going down injured and was eventually replaced by Joe Walsh on 38 minutes.
Town had the advantage but were reduced to 10 men five minutes before the break as Davis dragged Agard down on the edge of the box and after being adjudged to be last man, was shown a straight red card by referee Paul Marsden. Lewington sent the resulting free kick over the bar.
Thomas saw a low shot blockeed after a low cross from Hendrie on the right, before a Town corrner on the right did not lead to a chancee in front of goal.
The fourth official signalled four added minutes to be played at the end of the half and Gilbey became the firt away player to be booked for a foul, before another free kick led to Embleton shooting wide from 25 yards.
With no further chances for either side before the half-time whistle, the Mariners retained their advantage at the interval but would face a battle to hold onto it as they would be forced to play the whole second half a man short.
No further changes were made before the restart and the visitors beegan brightly, with a shot from striker Osman Sow being blocked before another effort by Gilbey went wide.
A shot from Agard was blocked and the away pressure continued when a shot by Gilbey was deflected away for a corner, although the ball from the flag was cleared.
Another corrner came after a good challenge by Grayson on 51 minutes but again, Russell was not called into action as Agard sent a volley over the bar after the ball came to him at the far post.
The visitors kept attacking and they looked to have a chance when a cross from Gilbey was headed back across goal by Russell Martin but Agard was flagged offside as he connected with a header.
Whitmore replaced Grayson in the heart of the Grimsby defence as the hosts made their first substitution on 56 minutes.
Defender Baily Cargill was booked for a foul on Woolford just after the hour and it was Cargill who had the Dons’ next shooting opportunity as he fired over the bar from 20 yards.
Sow was replaced by Chuks Aneke, before Whitmore becane the latest to be booked after a late challenge.
Hall-Johnson was sent on in place of Cook on 68 minutes, with Ryan Harley replacing Agard in the red and gold of the away side soon afterwards.
Russell bravely came off his line to deny Gilbey and claim the ball as the midfieldr looked to pull the trigger on 70 minutes.
Hessenthaler then had a chance at the other end, setting off on a strong run through the middle but shooting over the bar.
A Dons corner caused no problms for the Town defence as a heavy touch inside the box took the ball out for a goal kick.
The visitors would have felt they should have been level on 74 minutes when a cross from the right fell for Aneke but he failed to hit the target with a free header from six yards, instead guiding the ball wide.
A quick break after Hendrie lost possession also came to nothing as Gilbey’s low ball across the penalty area was cleared.
An appeal for a Dons penalty was turned down by the referee and the Mariners launched a quick counter-ttack through Thomas on the right but after cutting in, his shot was blocked.
The visitors won a corner soon afterwards but it was dealt with by the Town defence.
Welsh replaced Embleton just before another away corner on 83 minutes but again, the ball from the flag failed to cause any significant problems.
A Town free kick from Fox on the right was cleared, before a ood chance came when Fox found Thomas and his shot was well saved by Nicholls, at the expense of a corner.
Gilbey beat Welsh to get into th box at the other end but the midfelder recovered well to get the ball away for a corner, which led to Aneke heading over the bar.
Town were forced to hold on for an additional five minutes but they almost made certain of the points when Thomas shot from 12 yards after a cross by Hall-Johnson but Nicholls did well to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.
That proved to be the last chance for either side and after four defeats in January so far, the Mariners were finally able to celebrate a victory again.
Town are next in action on Saturday, when they welcome Newport County to Blundell Park.
23 Sam Russell
14 Joe Grayson
5 Ludvig Öhman
24 Harry Davis (C)
27 Luke Hendrie
19 Andrew Fox
7 Jake Hessenthaler
16 Martyn Woolford
22 Elliot Embleton
39 Wes Thomas
11 Jordan Cook
28 Ollie Battersby
2 Reece Hall-Johnson
25 Alex Whitmore
8 Mitch Rose
4 John Welsh
21 Ahkeem Rose
18 Charles Vernam
1 Lee Nicholls
26 Baily Cargill
15 Jordan Moore-Taylor
16 Russell Martin
21 David Wheeler
3 Dean Lewington (C)
8 Alex Gilbey
7 Ryan Watson
24 Jordan Houghton
14 Kieran Agard
9 Osman Sow
22 Stuart Moore
5 Mathieu Baudry
4 Joe Walsh
20 Lawson D’Ath
33 Ryan Harley
18 Conor McGrandles
10 Chuks Aneke
Referee: Paul Marsden
Attendance: 3,862 (141)