Two first-half goals ensured David Artell’s first home game as head coach of Grimsby Town brought a victory over his former club, Crewe Alexandra.
The game went ahead after three pitch inspections following a fantastic effort by the Blundell Park groundstaff to make the surface playable despite heavy rain throughout the morning.
And after the rain gave way to a strong wind, the Mariners managed the difficult conditions well to produce an exciting brand of attacking football and claim a deserved three points.
Abo Eisa opened the scoring with a spectacular strike from the edge of the box and Danny Rose’s header doubled the home advantage just before the break.
Crewe substitute Joe White brought them back into the game when he made it 2-1 with 12 minutes to go but Town defended well to seal the win.
Arthur Gnhoua and Eisa replaced Rekeil Pyke and Otis Khan as the new boss made two changes to his starting XI following last week’s FA Cup defeat at Oxford United.
Harvey Cartwright was in goal, with Toby Mullarkey, Harvey Rodgers, Niall Maher and Anthony Glennon forming the defence in front of him. Kamil Conteh and Alex Hunt sat behind Gnahoua, Harry Clifton and Eisa in midfield, while Rose led the attack.
The substitutes were Jake Eastwood, Michee Efete, Kieran Green, Luke Waterfall, Gavan Holohan, Khan and Callum Ainley.
Crewe came into the game knowing a win would take them back into Sky Bet League Two’s automatic promotion places, with Lee Bell’s fifth-placed Railwaymen sitting just a point behind Wrexham and Barrow at kick-off.
The visitors would look to the likes of attackers Courtney Baker-Richardson, Shilow Tracey and Elliott Nevitt to cause problems for the Town defence.
Glennon won the game’s first corner after linking up with Eisa on the left and it led to a shot from Gnahoua which was blocked at the edge of the penalty area.
Maher recovered to get back and make a good challenge at the other end after Tracey had turned past him, then Hunt sent an effort over the bar from 25 yards for the home side soon afterwards.
Baker-Richardson glanced a header wide from a chipped delivery into the box by Nevitt, before Mickey Demetriou had the first opportunity of the afternoon to use his long throw. The ball from it was headed away but when it was sent back into the danger zone, Cartwright made a great save to push Connor O’Riordan’s header out for a corner.
Eisa won a Grimsby corner on 13 minutes but they were unable to create a chance from it, then another flag-kick saw Rose head over the bar.
A 20-yard half-volley from Clifton was blocked for another corner and this time, the Mariners made it count in spectacular style. The ball was played to EISA on the edge of the box and he let fly with a superb strike which beat goalkeeper Harvey Davies and found the top corner of the net.
Town immediately went in search of a second goal but Rose was unable to direct a low left-wing cross from Glennon towards the target, before Cartwright dived to comfortably stop a header from Demetriou after the defender met a long ball into the box from a free kick.
Glennon set off on a brilliant run through the middle on 29 minutes and it took him towards the edge of the Crewe box before he looked for Rose, although the the offside flag went up when the striker headed at keeper Davies.
Mullarkey was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon when he was adjudged to be time-wasting over a free kick on the halfway line, then good play between Hunt and Gnahoua led to an opening for the midfielder to shoot from 18 yards. His low attempt was stopped by Davies.
A foul on Ryan Cooney gave Crewe a free kick inside the Town half on 35 minutes but O’Riordan could not connect with the delivery from it and the ball bounced out for a goal kick.
Demetriou had another long throw when Lewis Billington’s cross was headed out and although it was headed away by Rose at the near post, it proved to be the start of a spell of Crewe pressure and a low strike from Billington was deflected wide for a corner, which was claimed by Cartwright.
Town had a free kick in a dangerous position when Hunt was brought down by Billington and Glennon sent it towards the far post but it proved just too far ahead of Maher for him to connect.
Another run by Glennon down the left started the latest home attack and it eventually produced a corner when Eisa’s low cross was put behind, although it did not lead to an opening in front of goal.
As the half moved into two added minutes, the Mariners doubled their advantage. Glennon was the architect as he again made progress down the left before sending a cross over to the far post, where ROSE was on hand to head the ball down, past Davies and into the net.
Nevitt drilled a low strike just wide as the visitors looked for a response before the break but when the half-time whistle blew, it was the hosts who were in control as they went into the dressing rooms with a 2-0 lead.
White replaced Billington for Crewe before the restart and Demetriou sent a shot high and wide from distance as the away side were the first to attack.
Rose was caught offside as he ran onto a through-ball from Clifton, then Eisa won a corner on the left when Town next went forward. Hunt’s low ball was put behind at the near post for a goal kick.
A better chance came when a Mullarkey cross from the right was recycled by Glennon on the opposite left flank. He sent it back towards the far post but after Davies could only push it into the path of Rose, the striker headed over the bar.
Aaron Rowe and Michael Williams replaced Cooney and Connor Thomas as the away side made a double-substitution on 57 minutes in a bid to change the game in their favour.
But Town were still in control and a chipped cross from Hunt was caught by Davies after a neat build-up by the hosts.
A Crewe corner on 65 minutes was cleared, before Mullarkey sent a 25-yard drive just over the bar after he was picked out by a cross-field ball from Glennon.
The away side put together a lengthy spell of possession around the 70-minute mark but they were unable to turn it into a goalscoring chance and Town broke through Eisa, who eventually got the ball back but saw his shot blocked for a throw-in.
Khan, Ainley and Green came on in place of Gnahoua, Hunt and Eisa in a triple-substitution for the Mariners and soon afterwards, Clifton narrowly missed the target with a low shot which rolled just past the far post,
A Baker-Richardson cross was headed clear by Glennon but moments later, the visitors were back in the contest when a cross from Demetriou on the left was met by WHITE at the far post and he cushioned a volley past Cartwright to make it 2-1.
Town were given an opportunity to respond when Khan was brought down by White, who was handed a yellow card to go with his goal. The resulting free kick was played towards the far post but Rodgers could not get on the end of it.
Rowe was booked for a foul on Rose but Crewe had grown in confidence since their goal and as the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes, they were pushing forward in search of an equaliser.
A shot from Nevitt was blocked at one end, before a fierce long-range drive by Conteh was also blocked at the other as both teams looked for more goals.
Khan curled an effort wide after Glennon played a free kick short to him on the edge of the box, then the Mariners won another free kick as the game moved into a minimum of four added minutes. Glennon’s ball into the box was not fully dealt with by Davies but the referee blew for a foul on the keeper.
Rose missed the target with a speculative strike from distance, before O’Riordan saw an attempt blocked from Crewe’s final opportunity as Town held on for three precious points.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when they make the long trip to Newport County.