Grimsby Town battled their way to a vital derby victory over Scunthorpe United at Blundell Park.
A single goal, scored by Mattie Pollock, proved enough for the Mariners to claim all three points against their local rivals.
After taking the lead, Town dug in and defended well as a limited Scunthorpe side were unable to create any serious problems for returning goalkeeper James McKeown.
And the hosts’ efforts were rewarded with a win to ensure the Christmas period started in the best possible way.
Five changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI following the midweek defeat at Southend.
Skipper McKeown was back in goal as Sam Russell dropped to the bench, while Filipe Morais came in for his first start as Luke Spokes, Kyle Bennett and Montel Gibson were also brought into the line-up.
Luke Waterfall’s suspension meant Elliott Hewitt moved into the back four alongside Luke Hendrie, Pollock and Danny Preston, with Morais, Harry Clifton, Spokes and Bennett in midfield as Ira Jackson partnered Gibson in attack.
The substitutes were Russell, Joe Starbuck, James Tilley, Evan Khouri, Owura Edwards, Alhagi Touray Sisay and Matt Green.
Scunthorpe made the short journey along the M180 and A180 looking to continue a recent upturn in form which had seen them start to climb away from League Two’s relegation zone.
Neil Cox’s men started the day 18th in the table, four points and two places ahead of the Mariners.
After a scrappy start to the contest, the first attack of note saw Scunthorpe’s John McAtee head straight at McKeown from a cross by Alex Gillead.
The visitors twice looked to use the long throw of Myles Hippolyte to create danger in the early stages, although McKeown managed to claim the ball when it was hurled into the penalty area.
Town’s first opportunity to put pressure on the Scunthorpe goal came when Gibson won a corner on the left on 14 minutes. Bennett’s delivery from it was flicked over the bar by Gibson.
Another corner came on 21 minutes after Morais did well to get down the right and send a cross over which was pushed over the bar by keeper Mark Howard. This time, it led to the deadlock being broken as Bennett’s ball from the flag was flicked towards goal and after the initial attempt was bloked by Howard, POLLOCK converted the rebound from close range.
Clifton was spoken to by the referee after a foul on Lewis Spence just inside his own half but when the resulting free kick came into the box from Abo Eisa on the left, Manny Onariase’s header flew wide.
A Scunthorpe corner on 29 minutes failed to cause any problems for the Town defence, while a cross from Gillead on the right was headed wide at the far post six minutes later.
Gillead hit a cross-shot wide of the far post after being found in space on the right, before McAtee was shown the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Hewitt.
Town won a corner on the right on 40 minutes but Pollock could not direct his header towards goal after meeting Bennett’s ball.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side before the half-time whistle, the Mariners went into the dressing room at the break with the lead.
Aaron Jarvis replaced McAtee for the away side before the restart and the substitute was booked nine minutes in after it initially appeared as though a free kick had gone Scunthorpe’s way.
Spokes followed him into the referee’s notebook when he was shown the yellow card for a trip.
Morais won a corner on the hour after controlling a cross-field ball and making progress down the right before his cross was blocked. Bennett’s delivery was cleared back to him, then a follow-up cross was headed away.
Green replaced Gibson and Edwards came on in place of Bennett as the Mariners made a double-substitution on 62 minutes.
Scunthorpe captain Jordan Clarke was booked for a foul on Edwards, with Town boss Ian Holloway also shown the yellow card in the aftermath.
Soon afterwards, Edwards had a chance after cutting in from the left but he could not hit the target as his shot went wide.
A foul by Preston gave the visitors a free kick on the right on 76 minutes but Eisa’s delivery came off Onariase and went out for a goal kick.
Jake Taylor replaced Alfie Beestin for the away side on 78 minutes, before Tilley came on for Town in place of Jackson.
A foul by Hendrie on Jarvis gave Scunthorpe a free kick on the left but Eisa’s delivery from it was poor and Town cleared.
Starbuck replaced Morais in the latest substitution with eight minutes to go, as the Mariners looked to hold onto their narrow advantage.
A foul by Preston gave Scunthorpe a free kick in a dangerous position on the left with five minutes left but again, Eisa’s ball was poor and it sailed straight out for a throw-in.
Spokes curled a shot wide from 25 yards, before the fourth official signalled an additional five minutes to be played at the end of the game.
And the Mariners saw out the remainder of the contest to secure a morale-boosting victory and a deserved three points.
Town are next in action on Tuesday, when Bradford City are the visitors to Blundell Park.
- James McKeown (C)
- Elliott Hewitt
- Danny Preston
- Luke Hendrie
- Matthew Pollock
- Filipe Morais
- Harry Clifton
- Luke Spokes
- Kyle Bennett
- Ira Jackson Jr
- Montel Gibson
- Sam Russell
- Owura Edwards
- Evan Khouri
- Joseph Starbuck
- James Tilley
- Matt Green
- Alhagi Sisay
- Mark Howard
- Jordan Clarke (C)
- Myles Hippolyte
- Manny Onariase
- Jacob Bedeau
- Alfie Beestin
- Alex Gilliead
- Lewis Spence
- Abo Eisa
- Ryan Loft
- John McAtee
- Rory Watson
- Tyler Cordner
- Mason O’Malley
- Jordan Hallam
- Jake Taylor SUB
- Devarn Green
- Aaron Jarvis
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Next Up: Bradford City (H)