ALFRETON Town led for almost 40 minutes in the red-hot cauldron of Blundell Park on Saturday, but were undone by former striker Liam Hearn’s sensational four-timer, the first three goals coming in the space of a whirlwind 13 minutes.
And the Reds’ cause was certainly not helped by James Ellison and Drewe Broughton both being sent off for elbow offences on Bradley Wood and Gary Silk respectively in the 73rd and 86th minutes.
Alfreton were only able to nominate four substitutes as their injury problems deepened, with Paul Clayton also taking a knock from a tackle by Lee Ridley before being replaced by Ellison in the 65th minute.
It was sweltering by the seaside at Cleethorpes as Hearn set up Serge Makofo in the opening minutes but keeper Dan Lowson blocked and Adie Hawes managed to intercept Craig Disley’s follow-up.
Hawes had to be alert in the sixth minute as Hearn was sent on a run by Ridley, then Makofo could only find the side-netting after being marshalled by Jordan Hall as he ran on to Disley’s pass.
The first opening created by the Reds saw Nathan Jarman fire well wide from 22 yards in the tenth minute, then Greg Young thwarted Ridley after a blatant push on Jarman went unpunished.
A huge clearance by Lowson almost saw Clayton’s towering header creep in at the back post after 13 minutes, then a good spell by Alfreton continued when Wood was forced to head off the line following confusion caused by a long Leigh Franks throw.
Their reward came on 18 minutes when Clayton registered his first goal of the season by steering Jarman’s through-ball beyond Grimsby keeper James McKeown from 16 yards to stun the home crowd.
Young had to hack clear after a slip by Anton Brown in the 22nd minute had allowed Makofo to feed Michael Coulson, then three minutes later a great save by Lowson saw him tip over a drive from Hearn.
Brown had to virtually head off the goal-line in the 32nd minute as Hearn’s by-line cross set up Ridley, then Makofo blasted over after cutting in from the left.
Alfreton managed to push forward on 38 minutes as Clayton found Hall on the right, with his viscous curling shot having to be palmed away by McKeown with the ball rebounding off Broughton for a goal-kick.
Hall then fired over three minutes from half-time, then after the break Hall sent Jake Moult to the by-line but the latter could not squeeze the ball past McKeown from a diminishing angle.
Hearn’s equalising goal in the 57th minute came after Coulson had headed against the crossbar, stabbing the ball home after it had bobbled around in the box.
Hearn then embarked on an angled run before hammering his shot against Lowson’s legs with Makofo’s follow-up blocked by Franks, then Hearn put Grimsby ahead on the hour when he slotted home from 12 yards from a Rob Duffy pass.
A point-blank save by Lowson denied Makofo in the 64th minute, then five minutes later at the other end Jarman’s decent shot from 30 yards was dealt with by McKeown.
Hearn scored his third goal with 20 minutes remaining by finding the corner of the net through a crowded goalmouth despite Lowson appearing to have the shot covered, but the Reds keeper did well to tip over a Shaun Pearson header from a 79th minute right-wing corner.
Hearn rolled in his fourth from 16 yards as the Reds’ defence opened up, then as the game entered stoppage time Moult was tripped by Anthony Church and Jarman stroked home his third successful penalty of the season.
The scoring was concluded in the fourth minute of added time when Anthony Elding headed home after Lowson had parried a strong drive from Coulson.
Alfreton Town Team:
Adie Hawes (Chris Senior, 84)
Jordan Hall (Jamie Mullan, 76)
Paul Clayton (James Ellison, 65)
Substitutes not used: Ross Turner. (Only four substitutes named).
Grimsby Town Team:
Serge Makofo (Rob Eagle 76)
Bradley Wood (Gary Silk, 84)
Rob Duffy (Anthony Elding 76)
Substitutes not used: Scott Garner, Frankie Artus.
Man of the Match: Nathan Jarman
Referee: Richard Clark of Morpeth