Ten-man Grimsby Town were knocked out of the FA Trophy after Stockport County proved too strong in their third round clash at Edgeley Park.
The Mariners, hit hard by a Covid outbreak in the build-up to the game, were forced to make several changes to their team and were only able to name four of the permitted seven substitutes.
And the hosts took full advantage with a dominant display which saw them take the lead through Will Collar, before doubling their advantage when Ryan Croasdale struck just before half-time.
Town’s task was made even tougher when Lenell John-Lewis was shown a straight red card seven minutes into the second half and Stockport stretched their lead to three goals when Ash Palmer headed home from a corner on the hour, before Collar made it 4-0 with his second of the game.
A total of six alterations were made from the Grimsby XI that began the home defeat by Chesterfield last week, with Alex Hunt returning from suspension and Ryan Sears, Ryley Towler, Sean Scannell, Seb Revan and John-Lewis also coming into the side.
Max Crocombe continued in goal, with Sears, David Longe-King, Towler and Adam Crookes forming a back four. Scannell, Ben Fox, Hunt and Revan were the midfielders, with Sam Bell alongside John-Lewis in attack.
Up to seven subs can be nominated for FA Trophy matches but only Max Wright, Aaron Braithwaite, Joel Grant and James McKeown began on the bench for the Mariners.
Stockport boss Dave Challinor signalled his intent to go as far as possible in the competition by naming a very strong line-up boasting the likes of former Scunthorpe United striker Paddy Madden and ex-Bolton Wanderers captain Antoni Sarcevic.
The home side won the first corner of the game on two minutes when a cross from former Mariners loanee Connor Jennings on the right was cut out. The delivery from the flag was well claimed by Crocombe.
A first-time cross from Ryan Rydel on the left was headed wide by Jennings soon afterwards, before Crocombe was called into action to make a smart block from Madden after the striker had been played in through the middle by Jennings.
Town’s first opening came when a great through-ball from Longe-King found Sears on the edge of the penalty area. The right-back advanced and squared it for Bell but his shot was deflected wide for a corner.
And the Mariners were punished for missing that opportunity when Stockport took the lead on 12 minutes. Hunt lost possession on the edge of his own box and COLLAR took advantage to take the ball forward and beat Crocombe.
The away side’s response saw Hunt swing a free kick over from the left, although nobody in a red shirt could get to the ball and it went out at the far post for a goal kick.
A foul by Sears on Rydel gave the hosts a free kick on the left but they were unable to make it count, then a foul by Bell brought another opportunity for Stockport to get the ball into the danger zone. This time, the move led to Collar heading wide.
Crocombe had to be quick to stop what would have been a bizarre own goal moments later, then the keeper was in action again to make a block at his near post from Madden as the home side continued to attack.
A foul on Longe-King near the halfway line brought some respite for the Mariners and they went on to create a shooting chance for Hunt, whose effort from 20 yards was blocked.
Crookes did well to get to a Rydel cross ahead of Madden on the half-hour, then also headed clear when the ball was sent back into the box from the opposite, right flank.
Stockport were continuing to dominate and a foul by Sears on Rydel gave them another free kick on the left on 32 minutes. Sarcevic’s delivery was headed clear.
Another chance came on 38 minutes as Collar found Sam Minihan inside the penalty area but a vital deflection took the sting out of his shot and Sears was able to clear off the line.
Bell battled well on the edge of the box at the other end as Town looked for a chance to equalise before half-time, although this time, the ball bounced away for a goal kick.
But they were to fall further behind on 42 minutes as they were undone at the back by a great attacking move. Slick passing in and around the box eventually led to Collar finding CROASDALE in space and the midfielder had a simple task to send the ball past Crocombe and into the net from 10 yards.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side before the referee’s whistle, Stockport took a commanding lead into the dressing rooms with them at the break.
No changes were made before the restart and Revan won an early corner on the left as the Mariners looked for a way back into the contest. Hunt’s ball from the flag was put behind for another one but Town were unable to create any real danger from it.
John-Lewis flicked a header wide after meeting a cross from Revan as the visitors continued their bright start to the second half, before Towler was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon for a foul on Jennings midway inside the Town half. The resulting free kick was flicked away by Crookes for a corner, which was eventually cleared after Liam Hogan’s volley was blocked.
The task became even more difficult for the Mariners when they were reduced to 10 men on 52 minutes. The referee spotted a swinging arm from John-Lewis as he battled for the ball near the edge of the Stockport penalty area and brandished a straight red card.
Crocombe got down to stop a first-time shot from Jennings four minutes later, before the hosts grabbed a third goal on the hour when a corner from Rydel was met by PALMER, who nodded past Crocombe at the far post.
Croasdale was replaced by Mark Kitching as Stockport made the game’s first substitution on 65 minutes, before Wright came on in place of Scannell for Town three minutes later.
Rydel was the next to come off as he was replaced by Tom Walker and the hosts made it 4-0 on 73 minutes when COLLAR scored his second goal of the game, smashing a low volley through a crowd of players and into the far corner of the net.
Grant came on for Bell in the Town attack after the goal and they created a rare opportunity on 82 minutes, although Wright’s low shot was comfortable for home goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe.
Revan had a run down the left soon afterwards but his cross was caught by the keeper.
Town won a corner as the game moved into three minutes of added time but the ball from the flag was headed clear.
Stockport went on to win a corner at the other end but the delivery from the left beat everybody and went out for a goal kick.
That proved to be the last opportunity for either side as a difficult afternoon for the Mariners came to an end.
They are next scheduled to be in action on Tuesday, with a home National League game against Boreham Wood.