SORRY Town were handed a pasting.
Grimsby may be third from bottom of the Football League, but they powered past Town’s shoddy effort.
Manager Andy Ritchie fielded nine of the starting line-up which won so valiantly at Millwall, but the teamwork which triumphed down there was nowhere to be seen last night.
The League II side were quicker in movement, sharper in thought and, when it came to the crunch, more ruthless in every sector of the pitch.
Isaiah Rankin and Andy Taylor had pace to burn against a Town back four in which Joe Skarz – who went close with a couple of excellent free-kicks – was the only player to reach anything like normal form, while Nick Fenton terrorised them in the air.
To be fair, they didn’t get much protection from a lack-lustre midfield who were bullied into submission, or from a front two who struggled to keep control of the minimal service they received, and the whole package was pretty hard to stomach for 255 loyal travelling fans.
It was remarkable, in fact, that Town took the lead on the stroke of 45 minutes when Michael Collins followed up to score after Luke Beckett finally teed up Danny Schofield’s lovely through ball.
Grimsby hit back immediately, however, when Fenton rose above everyone to head home a Danny Boshell corner and it was a sign of much worse to come for Town.
Strangely, Town had the first chance to go ahead in the second half when Schofield – doing admirably to concentrate on playing again after the sad loss of his younger brother – put Collins in for a raking low shot which went only inches wide, but Alan Buckley’s men quickly made them pay.
Four minutes into the second half, Town were sliced open again as Peter Till fed James Hunt and, even though skipper Matt Glennon managed to parry the shot, Ciaran Toner was left unmarked to fire them ahead.
Toner was involved again, four minutes later, when supplying the corner from which Fenton embarrassingly outjumped any would-be markers to set up Rankin for the third, and when Till charged down Skarz’ attempted clearance for a fortunate fourth on 68 minutes, it looked truly ominous.
By then, Matt Young had replaced Schofield and Ritchie wasted no time in adding Lucas Akins and Tom Clarke for the closing stages, both applying themselves well under the circumstances.
Malvin Kamara, who got few chances to run at the home defence, briefly played up front as well, having a couple of snap shots smothered near the line by Phil Barnes.
But there was never the cohesion to Town’s play which made Grimsby appear so threatening and, when you add in the aerial prowess of Fenton at set pieces, it’s a wonder they weren’t punished more.
Oh how Town could have done with Andy Booth to mark him.
While Skarz caught the eye and showed his free-kick skill, Collins was desperately unlucky not to get his second of the match deep into added time when Barnes got down late to save before blocking the follow-up from Chris Brandon.
It was all too little too late from Town, however, who haven’t beaten League opposition in a Cup for two years. Playing like this, that agony will go on for a good while yet.