Ruthless Grimsby Town march on in FA Trophy with 4-0 win over Havant & Waterlooville
IT couldn't have been more of a contrast from Grimsby Town's First Round FA Trophy encounter at Blundell Park.
Whereas the Mariners huffed and puffed that first afternoon against Buxton and couldn't find a way through, it took them just 90 seconds to make the breakthrough against the Hawks on Saturday.
Before ten minutes were up, the hosts were effectively home and dry after adding another.
Rob Scott and Paul Hurst's men can now watch today's draw for the last-16 with interest, knowing a league and Trophy double still remains a possibility.
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Another home clash next month would be ideal, but Town's impressive away record this campaign and position near the top of the Conference means they will fear no one.
And rightly so after a thoroughly professional display eased them into the Third Round of the competition.
The big news before kick-off at Blundell Park was striker Ross Hannah's omission from the match-day squad. Greg Pearson came in for a rare start in place of the Bradford City man up front.
Fellow loanee Scott Neilson dropped to the bench to make way for Joe Colbeck, while Aswad Thomas' sore Achilles ruled him out completely.
Bradley Wood deputised at left-back, with Sam Hatton at full-back on the opposite flank.
And it was Hatton who set-up the opening goal in just the second minute.
His excellent set-piece delivery from the right was perfect for Shaun Pearson near the penalty spot, and the big centre-half rose above his marker to head the ball powerfully past Clarke Masters.
It was almost 2-0 in the fifth minute as Marcus Marshall fed Colbeck and his drive was parried up and away by Masters before Marshall flicked the rebound against the foot of the post.
Derek Niven forced the busy Masters into a low stop with a stinging 25-yarder, but the under-siege keeper was powerless to stop the second goal in the ninth minute.
Marshall's superb left-footed cross was met by Andy Cook at the far post with a header back across the stopper and into the corner.
It was not the start the visiting Hawks had dreamed up during their five-hour coach journey north.
But they responded and forced Nathan Pond and Shaun Pearson into last-ditch defensive headers from Chris Arthur free-kicks.
However, the hosts were well on top with Marshall and Colbeck having the freedom of the wide areas and Craig Disley and Niven bossing the middle of the park.
The Mariners almost scored again when Colbeck's cross from the left was flicked on by Greg Pearson and sailed wide of the far post.
Colbeck and Disley then linked up in the 20th minute, with the skipper forcing Masters into another decent low save.
Young left-back Dan Butler did well to deny Greg Pearson a tap-in from five yards after more good work by Cook along the inside left channel.
The Hawks were inches from earning a penalty in the 33rd minute as Christian Nanetti's feet were too quick for Marshall and the Town winger brought him down right on the edge of the box. The resulting free-kick came to nothing and the hosts were three-up shortly after.
Wood burst out from the back and played a well-weighted ball for Marshall to cross first-time, giving Greg Pearson the simple task of glancing the ball home at the near post.
It was the 40th minute when the away side finally registered their first effort on goal – Arthur's 30-yarder flying just over the bored James McKeown's bar.
And the Hawks followed that up with their first shot on target three minutes later as Sahr Kabba glided past two challenges and forced McKeown into a reflex block at his near post.
There was one minute of injury time to negotiate before the break – despite Ryan Woodford receiving more than three minutes of treatment for a bloody nose earlier in the half.
The Mariners had a reminder the game wasn't over two minutes into the second period when Kabba's cross was headed on target by strike partner Ollie Palmer.
But, as with so many occasions this season, McKeown was on hand to scramble across his goal and make a superb reaction save on the goal-line.
The visitors had started the half well and things got more uncomfortable for Town in the 58th minute when Colbeck's lunging challenge on Butler earned him a second yellow card.
However, within two minutes the Mariners were four ahead and any pressure evaporated.
Cook's excellent instant control on the chest and turn took him into the box, and the fine angled finish that followed shows how much the forward's confidence has grown in recent weeks.
Cook departed 20 minutes from time, to a rousing ovation from the home crowd, as Michael Rankine entered the fray.
And Thanoj – who had come on for Disley at the break – curled an effort narrowly over the bar after an enterprising run by Hatton as the Mariners went in search of a fifth.
The visitors battled away gamely in the closing stages despite the hopelessness of the situation.
Palmer volleyed over the Town bar and substitute Steve Ramsey fired another speculative shot well over, but the Mariners were heading through.
Attentions now turn to today's Third Round draw as a trip down Wembley Way remains on the horizon for Town and their supporters.