Grimsby Town stepped up their preparations for the new season with a narrow friendly defeat by Hull City at Blundell Park.
The Mariners’ first home outing of the summer was played in four 30-minute quarters, with boss Paul Hurst giving the majority of his squad an hour of action as they continue to build fitness ahead of Sky Bet League Two’s big kick-off on August 5.
Town had the better of the early stages but their Championship visitors stepped up the tempo during the second quarter and they took the lead through Regan Slater seven minutes before the halfway point.
Both sides named completely different XIs for the second 60 minutes and after a goalless third quarter, Ryan Longman struck from close range to double Hull’s advantage.
The hosts were back in the contest with just over 20 minutes to go as Donovan Wilson scored the first Grimsby goal on home turf of this pre-season but they were unable to complete the comeback as the away side held on to record a 2-1 victory.
The Mariners XI for the first hour saw Jake Eastwood start in goal behind a defence of Toby Mullarkey, Harvey Rodgers, Niall Maher and Anthony Glennon. Harry Clifton, Kamil Conteh, Evan Khouri and Charles Vernam were the midfielders, with Abo Eisa supporting Danny Rose in attack.
Hull boss Liam Rosenior named a strong line-up, with Manchester City loanee Liam Delap, Colombian international Oscar Estupinan and Ivory Coast midfielder Jean-Michael Seri all included for the first part of the game. There was also an instant return to Blundell Park for Andy Smith, who spent last season on loan from the Tigers.
An early foul on Rose gave Town a free kick wide on the left, although they were unable to turn it into a chance in front of goal.
Instead, the first opening of the game came for the away side as Harry Vaughan slid a pass through the middle for Delap. Eastwood was alert to the danger though and raced off his line to get to the ball first.
A mistake by Lewie Coyle presented Vernam with the ball in the Hull penalty area on eight minutes but when he cut inside and aimed for the far post, his attempt was blocked and the visitors managed to clear.
Town had another opportunity to attack when Mullarkey was brought down on the right but when Glennon’s delivery was headed away as far as Conteh, he could only fire over the bar from 20 yards.
Slater won the game’s first corner for Hull on 18 minutes but they were unable to create an opportunity in front of goal from it, then a cross from Vernam at the other end was headed back across goal and caught by keeper Matt Ingram.
A looping header from Rose was comfortably caught by Ingram after the striker connected with Mullarkey’s right-wing cross, then Estupinan headed over the bar twice in quick succession from Vaughan crosses.
The away side were getting stronger as the end of the first quarter approached and Rodgers had to head a cross from the right behind for a corner. Again though, the ball from the flag posed no real threat and as a result, the first 30-minute period finished with the score still goalless.
Eastwood got down to stop a free kick from Seri on the Hull left in the first action of note after the restart, before Town’s first opportunity came with a free kick in a central position for a foul on Eisa. Glennon’s shot from it sailed over the bar.
Clifton was adjudged to have brought Vaughan down on 43 minutes but the resulting free kick was caught by Eastwood, then Slater dragged a low effort wide from the edge of the box.
A shot from Delap was deflected wide for a corner as Hull continued to look for a breakthrough, before Maher was spoken to by the referee following a sliding challenge near the halfway line.
A drive from Clifton took a deflection for a corner but Rose’s far-post header from it dropped just wide.
The opening goal eventually came seven minutes before the end of the second quarter, as a neat build-up led to the ball being played across the six-yard line for SLATER to finish at the far post.
Town’s response saw Vernam burst into the box on a run down the left, although he was unable to pick out a team-mate.
A Mullarkey cross was cut out for a corner as the hosts pressed for an equaliser but Glennon’s delivery from the right was claimed by Ingram.
That mean the away side went in a goal up after the first 60 minutes, with two completely different XIs coming out ahead of the third quarter.
Harvey Cartwright made his first appearance in goal for the Mariners since joining on loan from Hull, with Michee Efete, Jamie Bramwell, Luke Waterfall and Danny Amos forming the defence. Aaron Braithwaite, Gavan Holohan, Kieran Green, Alex Hunt and Otis Khan lined up in midfield, with Wilson leading the attack.
Cartwright’s first involvement came in the opening minute as he raced off his line to stop a dangerous attack, before a fierce drive from Green at the other end took a deflection for a corner.
Hull won a corner of their own soon afterwards but the ball from it was headed clear by Braithwaite, before a Khan free kick was comfortably dealt with.
A penalty appeal came from the away end when Benjamin Tetteh went down under a challenge from Cartwright but the referee waved play-on as the loose ball was slotted wide.
Tetteh fired wide of the far post after another slick attacking move by the visitors, before a header from Wilson was off-target.
Waterfall was shown the yellow card after a challenge near the halfway line but no further chances came for either side before the referee blew to end the third quarter, with Hull still holding a single-goal advantage.
But two minutes after the restart, the away side doubled their lead, as a mistake in the Town defence allowed LONGMAN to poke the ball past Cartwright from close range.
The Mariners were back in the contest on 98 minutes though, as WILSON pounced on a short back-pass from Hull substitute Jake Leake to roll the ball past Lo-Tutala and into the net at the Pontoon Stand end.
Cartwright made a great save from Ozan Tufan to keep the score at 2-1 with 13 minutes to go, before Hunt sent a low effort just wide on the turn as the visitors were caught out while trying to play the ball out from the back.
The away fans thought their side had restored their two-goal lead when Tetteh headed home from a right-wing cross but the assistant referee’s flag had already gone up to signal the ball had gone out of play.
Brave defending by Efete and then Amos kept the visitors out after Tetteh created another opening, with the Mariners continuing to work hard as the clock ticked down.
Edwin Essel replaced Braithwaite with seven minutes to go, then a Hull change saw Tom Nixon come on in place of Leake.
The last action of the game saw the Hull defence scramble a free kick from Hunt away for a corner and the final whistle confirmed a victory for the away side.
Despite losing the game though, the Mariners would have taken plenty of positives from what was another valuable exercise in the build-up to the new season.
Town now head to Spain for a training camp which includes fixtures against Al Ain U21 and Port Vale, before returning to face Lincoln City at Blundell Park on Tuesday, July 25.