Grimsby Town won their penultimate home game of the season as they completed a league double over Crewe Alexandra.
The Mariners, playing in their one-off Green Town shirts, edged a close first half and went in at the break with the lead through Gavan Holohan’s goal from a well-worked free kick routine.
Crewe created chances to get themselves level after the interval but Max Crocombe was rarely seriously tested in the Town goal and the hosts sealed the points when Danilo Orsi made it 2-0 with a header eight minutes from time.
Four changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI following the defeat at Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, with Andy Smith, Anthony Glennon, Evan Khouri and Alex Hunt coming in for Niall Maher, Danny Amos, Kieran Green and Ryan Taylor.
Crocombe kept up his ever-present record in goal, with Josh Emmanuel, Smith, Luke Waterfall and Glennon forming the defence. Holohan and Khouri sat behind Harry Clifton, Hunt and Otis Khan in midfield, with Orsi leading the attack.
Maher, Green and Taylor were all named on the bench, where they were joined by Michee Efete, George Lloyd, Mikey O’Neill and Aaron Braithwaite.
Crewe began the evening 18th in the Sky Bet League Two table, four points and five places below the Mariners but with a game in hand.
Lee Bell’s men would be looking for a better return than in the clubs’ two previous meetings this season, with Town winning 4-0 in the Carabao Cup first-round tie at Blundell Park in August and claiming a 3-0 away victory in the reverse league fixture in Cheshire.
A foul on Emmanuel gave the home side an early opportunity to get the ball into the penalty area but Hunt’s delivery from the right was headed away by defender Tariq Uwakwe.
A cross from Daniel Agyei was cleared at the other end, before Town’s first opening came on eight minutes when Khouri did well to win the ball near the edge of the Crewe box. Orsi took it on and played a through-ball for Clifton but the midfielder’s shot was blocked by goalkeeper Tom Booth for the game’s first corner, which led to Hunt missing the target with a low shot.
The deadlock was broken on 13 minutes and it was the Mariners who took the lead from a well-worked free kick. Hunt played the ball low from near the halfway line for the run of HOLOHAN, who steered his strike past Booth and into the far corner of the net.
Crewe responded with a chance of their own as Kelvin Mellor fired wide after meeting a left-wing cross at the far post, then a corner from the away left was headed clear.
Mellor was shown the first yellow card of the evening after bringing Clifton down midway inside the away half but this time, they were unable to create a chance from the resulting free kick.
Crocombe had to get back to tip the ball onto his bar when a looping header from Agyei looked to be heading for the net, then a free kick from Ryan Finnigan on the Crewe right was headed clear by Waterfall.
Khan cut inside from the left after the ball fell for him from a free kick on 25 minutes and he found Waterfall at the far post but Orsi was unable to get on the end of the defender’s header back across goal.
Emmanuel did well at the other end to get back and challenge Elliott Nevitt to bring a quick break by the visitors to an end, then Orsi had a chance to make it 2-0 but he mis-hit his first attempt before seeing a second close-range shot blocked.
A good cross by Clifton from the right was headed away by centre-back Luke Offord as Town kept looking for a second goal, although Crewe were also creating openings and Agyei shot wide under pressure after a run through the middle by Christopher Long.
Booth came off his line to make a comfortable catch from a cross by Emmanuel on 42 minutes, then Orsi was adjudged to have fouled Offord as he looked to turn past the defender on the edge of the Crewe box.
One added minute was played at the end of the first half and with no further chances coming for either side, the Mariners retained their single-goal advantage at the break.
No changes were made by either side before the restart and the away side had the first opportunity of the second half when Agyei got to a ball over the top ahead of Crocombe but forced himself wide and when he pulled it back across the six-yard line, nobody was there to convert the chance.
Long then had an opportunity when he beat Waterfall on the left side of the box but the attacker could only side-foot through to Crocombe.
Town’s first attack of note following the interval saw Hunt travel forward before finding Khan and after Khouri got to the by-line, tthe midfielder pulled the ball back for Orsi but his attempt was cleared by Rod McDonald.
At the other end, Nevitt won a corner when his shot was blocked by Smith, although Callum Ainley’s delivery from the flag was cleared by Khouri.
Courtney Baker-Richardson and Joel Tabiner replaced Nevitt and Ainley as the away side made the first changes with a double-substitution on 55 minutes.
Clifton then set off on a run through the middle before giving the ball to Khouri, whose shot from the edge of the box was caught by Booth.
Smith blocked a 25-yard strike by Baker-Richardson, before an Agyei shot from a narrow angle was deflected into the side-netting for a corner. Uwakwe’s ball from the flag found McDonald but his towering header dropped wide.
Another corner came on the away right three minutes after the hour following a good challenge by Glennon. Again, McDonald’s header from it was off-target.
Agyei lifted an attempt over the bar as Crewe continued to step up their search for an equaliser.
Town were also playing some nice football and they created an opening when Khan and Khouori linked up down the left. Khan cut inside and let fly with a shot but he was unable to test Booth as the ball went over the bar.
Charlie Finney replaced Finnigan in Crewe’s third change on 69 minutes, then a 20-yard shot by Long took a deflection for a corner. Smitth won the first header from it and Town eventually got the ball clear.
Another away corner followed soon afterwards, this time on the opposite, left flank, and from it, they should have been level. Uwakwe’s delivery was headed on by Baker-Richardson for Thomas at the far post but the midfielder mis-hit his close-range volley and Town escaped with their lead intact.
Academy graduate Braithwaite replaced Holohan in the Grimsby midfield with 15 minutes to go, before Khan became the latest to see the referee’s yellow card for a foul inside his own half.
Orsi showed some quick thinking to try his luck with a lob attempt from distance on 79 minutes but keeper Booth was alert to the danger and got back to make a comfortable stop.
A foul by Finney then gave Town a free kick just inside the Crewe half, although Hunt’s delivery to the edge of the box was headed clear.
The Mariners made no mistake soon afterwards though, as they made sure of maximum points with a second goal. Clifton crossed from the right and ORSI was in the right place to meet it and send a free header past Booth.
O’Neill replaced Khouri after the goal and Long saw two shots stopped by Crocombe as the visitors looked for a way back into the game.
Lachlan Brook came on for Long with three minutes remaining and he had a chance to pull a goal back after running onto a ball through through the middle but Crocombe came off his line to make a good block.
As the game moved into three added minutes, Hunt won the ball in midfield and made good progress through the middle before passing to Khan, whose shot was blocked for a corner.
No further chances came for either side before the referee’s final whistle, leaving the Mariners with a clean sheet to go with all three points from a second consecutive home victory after last week’s success against Barrow.
Town are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to promotion-chasing Stevenage.