An injury-hit Port Vale fell to defeat away at Grimsby Town on Saturday afternoon as goals from Wes Thomas and JJ Hooper proved decisive at Blundell Park.
The Valiants got off to the worst possible start as Grimsby found themselves through on goal with Wes Thomas, and the experienced striker made no mistakes with the finish to put his side ahead after 38 seconds.
Up the other end just three minutes later, Vale almost found a leveller as Leon Legge rose highest to head a David Worrall free-kick towards goal, but it dropped just wide of the far post with James McKeown scrambling.
After a period of both sides jostling for possession, it was Neil Aspin’s men who began applying pressure, but the home defence stood firm to clear a succession of crosses. Charles Vernam then took aim up the other end with 20 minutes played, only to be denied by Brown who got down well to save.
Vale continued to have prolonged spells in control of the ball, and they worked an opening on 32 minutes following some neat build-up. Lewis Hardcastle received it in a central area before letting fly with his left foot, but the low strike was comfortable for the ‘keeper to hold.
With four minutes to play until half-time, the away side had a great chance to pull back on level terms. Some neat interchange down the left flank allowed Luke Hannant to play in a dangerous cross, but Tom Conlon could only fire his volley narrowly over the crossbar from 12 yards.
Following the restart, it was the Mariners who almoust doubled their advantage on 50 minutes as Thomas found Hooper inside the area. The former Vale man then shifted the ball onto his right foot before crashing a powerful strike off of the post.
Ricky Miller then flashed one just wide of the post two minutes later, but it was Grimsby who then found the net up the other end almost immediately afterwards. Some neat play worked the ball out wide before a pinpoint low cross left Hooper with the simplest of finishes.
The home side had the ball in the back of the net once more after 59 minutes as Conlon was caught in possession, but Elliot Embleton was adjudged to have fouled the midfielder and the referee ruled it out and awarded Vale a free-kick.
As Vale attempted to find a route back into the game, they almost found it on 72 minutes. Hannant’s driven corner was attacked by Miller from close range and his header was firm, but he couldn’t find the direction and McKeown was able to clutch the ball to his chest.
Miller then went on a mazy run deep into stoppage time before getting a shot away, but it was deflected into Tom Pope's path. He then instinctively sent a snapshot on target from close range, only to be thwarted by McKeown who reacted smartly to keep the ball out.
Grimsby Town: James McKeown, Reece Hall-Johnson, Danny Collins ©, Mitch Rose, JJ Hooper (Martyn Woolford 81’), Harry Clifton, Charles Vernam (Ahkeem Rose 87’), Elliot Embleton, Alex Whitmore, Luke Hendrie, Wes Thomas.
Unused Substitutes: Paul Dixon, Louis Robles, Jake Hessenthaler, Sam Russell, Ben Pringle.
Port Vale: Scott Brown, Leon Legge, Antony Kay (Luke Joyce 86’), David Worrall (Ben Whitfield 78’), Tom Pope ©, Luke Hannant, Connell Rawlinson, Nathan Smith, Tom Conlon, Mitchell Clark, Lewis Hardcastle (Ricky Miller 45’).
Unused Substitutes: Sam Hornby, Idris Kanu, Louis Dodds, Theo Vassell.
Attendance: 3,842 (203 Vale fans).