Grimsby Town battled to another fantastic away victory as they beat Stockport County at Edgeley Park.
In the clash of the two teams promoted from the National League last season, the Mariners went into a two-goal lead as Harry Clifton opened the scoring and Gavan Holohan doubled their advantage.
The complexion of the game changed when Paddy Madden pulled a goal back just before half-time and the visitors were forced to withstand long spells of pressure after that as the hosts looked to complete the comeback.
That pressure continued despite Stockport going down to 10 men when midfielder Callum Camps was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Kieran Green with 19 minutes to go.
But Town defended superbly throughout and they were to have the final say when substitute Alex Hunt struck in added time to score his first goal since returning to the club in front of the near-1,300 travelling fans and make the points safe.
Green replaced Jordan Maguire-Drew in the only change to the Grimsby starting XI after last week’s 3-0 home win against Crawley Town.
That meant it was an unchanged defence of Michee Efete, Luke Waterfall, Andy Smith and Anthony Glennon in front of goalkeeper Max Crocombe. Green sat behind Brendan Kiernan, Holohan, Clifton and Otis Khan in midfield, with Ryan Taylor leading the line in attack.
Maguire-Drew was named on the bench, alongside Niall Maher, Evan Khouri, Hunt, Lewis Richardson, Aribim Pepple and Danilo Orsi.
Stockport also made one change following their victory over Bradford City last time out, with Chris Hussey coming in for Calum Macdonald.
Dave Challinor’s men sat 16th in the League Two table at kick-off, seven points behind the Mariners in 12th, and were looking to the likes of Madden and Kyle Wootton to fire them to a fourth win of the season.
A foul on Clifton gave Town an early free kick midway inside the home half but the ball from it was cleared after Glennon’s delivery had been headed back across goal by Waterfall.
A cross from Myles Hippolyte on the Stockport left was headed clear by Waterfall, before Crocombe was called into action for the first time on 12 minutes as he dived to his left to stop a first-time shot by Wootton from Will Collar’s pull-back.
Kiernan sent a low shot wide of the near post from the right, then a deep cross from Glennon on the left sailed out for a goal kick as Town attacked again.
The visitors were awarded a free kick within shooting range when Holohan was brought down on 17 minutes, although Glennon’s shot from it deflected away off the home wall for a corner. From the flag, Town tried a set-piece routine as Glennon played the ball low to Taylor at the near post but his flick was cleared.
Seconds later, the hosts had the best chance so far as Antoni Sarcevic found himself in space at the edge of the box. Crocombe was equal to his shot though, getting a strong hand to the ball to push it away from danger.
Kiernan sent an attempt just over the bar after cutting in from the right, before the Mariners took the lead with their next attack on 24 minutes. Clifton picked up a loose ball in midfield and drove forward before finding Khan and when keeper Vit Jaros got a touch to his curling shot towards the far post, CLIFTON was there to finish from close range.
Clifton had another chance when the ball bounced loose following a cross from Khan on the left but it came to the midfielder quickly and he was unable to generate enough power on it to beat Jaros.
The hosts looked to respond to going behind and a cross from Hippolyte was headed away by Efete.
But the Mariners were in control and they made it 2-0 on the half-hour. Kiernan broke and found Khan, who moved to the left and stood a cross up towards the far post, where Jaros could not get enough on his punch to clear the danger and HOLOHAN pounced to slam the ball into the net.
Sarcevic fired tamely wide from 20 yards as Stockport looked for a way back into the game, before Ollie Crankshaw replaced Ryan Croasdale in the home side’s first substitution on 36 minutes.
Crankshaw’s first contribution was to send a cross over from the right, which Crocombe got to ahead of Wootton.
Kiernan then won a corner on the right at the other end but Glennon’s ball was headed clear by Hussey.
Green was shown the first yellow card of the game for an off-the-ball incident, although the home side were not able to profit from the free kick when play was stopped.
Soon afterwards though, Stockport were back in the contest when Town were unable to clear a low ball into the box from Collar on the right and MADDEN was the one to eventually slot past Crocombe to reduce the home side’s deficit to one goal.
Six added minutes were played at the end of the half and Hippolyte missed the target with a strike from distance as the hosts aimed to complete the comeback before the break.
Crankshaw was caught offside after getting on the end of a flick from Hippolyte and Town held firm at the back for the remainder of the half to ensure they got to the interval with their lead intact.
Holohan appeared to have picked up an injury towards the end of the first 45 minutes and he was replaced by Hunt in the away side’s first change ahead of the restart.
An early cross from Hussey on the home left caused problems until the ball was eventually cleared, before a slip by Taylor led to another Stockport attack, which was stopped by Glennon.
Clifton forced Jaros into conceding a corner as the keeper pushed his near-post shot behind for a corner after the midfielder had linked up with Kiernan. Hunt’s ball from the flag was headed clear.
Hippolyte was then denied by a great save from Crocombe as the Town keeper flung an arm up to stop the close-range shot after Madden had helped a low ball from the right on.
A Town free kick from Glennon on the left eventually ended up with Jaros in the home goal after Waterfall had won the initial header.
Glennon was then shown a yellow card for delaying taking a throw-in, before Madden followed him into the referee’s notebook following a duel with Waterfall.
Crocombe came off his line to beat Sarcevic to a through-ball into the box from Madden, before Taylor was adjudged to have fouled defender Ryan Johnson to bring a Town attack to an end.
A foul by Khan on Collar gave Stockport a free kick on the right and after it was initially cleared, the hosts retained possession until nobody could get on the end of a cross-shot from Hippolyte and the Mariners escaped with a goal kick.
The influential Hippolyte was involved again soon afterwards when he sent a cross over from the left which was sliced back to Crocombe by Green.
Sarcevic fired over the bar as the hosts continued to threaten, with Macdonald coming on for Hussey at left-back in their second substitution on 65 minutes.
Crankshaw prodded wide of the near-post after getting the ball from Madden and cutting in from the right, then Efete became the latest to see the yellow card.
A cross from Collar on the right was well claimed by Crocombe, before the keeper got down to stop a volley from Sarcevic as the momentum remained with the hosts but the lead stayed with the Mariners.
Stockport were reduced to 10 men for the final 19 minutes of the game when midfielder Camps was guilty of a poor lunge on Green in midfield, with the referee showing no hesitation in brandishing a straight red card.
And there was a great chance for the Mariners to restore their two-goal advantage seconds later when Clifton met a cross from Efete on the right but his free header lacked direction and bounced wide of the target.
Kiernan did well to keep the ball in and win a corner on the right on 76 minutes but Hunt’s ball from the flag was headed clear and a free kick was given for a foul on keeper Jaros. Green was then spoken to by the referee after kicking the ball away but the midfielder escaped a second booking.
A cross from the home right was touched out for a corner by Kiernan and it turned into another when Crocombe needed to tip the ball over his bar. This time, the delivery from the flag was headed away by Efete.
Khan won a corner at the other end amid a penalty appeal for handball from the Town fans behind the goal but Hunt’s ball was cleared, as was a return ball into the box towards Smith.
Pepple and Maher replaced Khan and Kiernan for the last eight minutes, then Glennon saw a low shot blocked from the left edge of the box.
A great block by Green stopped a home cross from the right, at the expense of a corner, and Waterfall was in the right place to get to the ball from the flag first.
The Stockport pressure continued with a cross from the right which Efete got to ahead of Madden, then a home penalty appeal was waved away by the referee after Fraser Horsfall went down under a challenge with Taylor.
Ex-Town loanee Connor Jennings was sent on for the final two minutes of the game as he replaced Hippolyte, with the hosts still pushing hard for an equaliser.
But the Mariners had an opportunity to make the points safe as the match moved into five added minutes when a cross from Glennon on the left was met by Waterfall, only for the defender to send his header over the bar.
At the other end, Stockport won a free kick on the left but Waterfall rose to head Sarvevic’s ball clear.
A foul on Pepple inside the centre circle gave Town an opportunity to relieve the pressure and get the ball into the home half.
And although it came back on that occasion, there was still time for the Mariners to wrap up their victory with a third goal, as Glennon looked up from the left and played a low ball across for HUNT, who steered a low finish past Jaros from 20 yards.
That sparked great scenes of celebration in the away end as Town sealed their fifth win on the road this season.
The Mariners now return to Blundell Park for their next action, with Bradford City set to be the visitors on Saturday.