Cambridge United ground out a hard-earned 1-2 win at Blundell Park to open their account for the New Year against Grimsby Town.
First half goals from Adam May and Paul Mullin were enough to give United three points, despite a spirited Grimsby effort during the second half which saw Elliott Hewitt pull a goal back.
The U’s made three changes with Dimitar Mitov, Wes Hoolahan and Harvey Knibbs returning to the starting eleven.
Eager to make up for the defeat to bottom placed Stevenage four days earlier, United got off to the perfect start. A counter attack set up by Luke Hannant, saw a Paul Mullin cross from the right cleared only as far as Adam May, who struck first time from 18 yards to beat Sam Russell in the Grimsby goal with the help of a deflection on the fourth minute.
They had the chance to double the lead ten minutes later when Mullin delivered an exceptional pass into strike partner Harvey Knibbs, who was able to take the ball down on his chest in behind the Mariner’s back four but saw his shot saved one on one by Russell.
Mitov’s first action of the game was a routine save for a shot by Filipe Morais on 19 minutes, and the Bulgarian would have been pleased to see a well struck effort by Kyle Bennnett whistle wide of his right post.
Mullin was the recipient of a sublime ball forward by Harry Darling ten minutes before half time, and produced a level of finish expected of League Two’s top goalscorer, rifling home his 20th goal in all competitions from just inside the Grimsby area to double the advantage.
United were fortunate to see their lead unblemished on 54 minutes when Bennett missed a guilt-edged chance, directing a free header wide from six yards out.
Bonner’s men crafted an excellent piece of passing play shortly after the hour, as Dunk, Hoolahan and Hannant combined with the latter pulling a cross back into the path of Mullin, who couldn’t quite get his feet sorted in time to make the most of opportunity eight yards out.
Grimsby substitute Montel Gibson forced Mitov into a sublime reaction save at the other end moments later, with the Bulgarian keeping the two goal lead intact.
Hannant had the chance to make it three when he broke into Grimsby area on 69, but lashed hit shot against the outer netting of Russell’s gosal.
And the game became a little tenser for the U’s in the scoreline on 72 minutes, when Elliott Hewitt flicked a well-judged header over Mitov and into the far corner of his net to pull a goal back for the hosts.
Mark Bonner’s men dug in though and worked hard to see out the win and take their first three points of 2021.
Grimsby Town: Russell, Hendre, Qaterfall, Pollock, Hewitt, Morais, Preston, Rose (Clifton, 70 mins), Bennett (Jackson, 78 mins), Green (Williams, 78 mins), Tilley (Gibson, 45 mins)
Cambridge United: Mitov, Knoyle, Taylor, Darling (Cundy, 80 mins), Dunk, Hannant, Digby, May, Hoolahan (Iredale, 90 mins), Mullin, Knibbs (Ironside, 75 mins)