ACCRINGTON Stanley picked up a first win in six in all competitions as they sunk the Mariners 3-0 at Blundell Park to return to a League Two play-off place.

Second half goals from Billy Kee, Sean McConville and Kayden Jackson ensured the Reds ended 2017 on a high and Grimsby extended their own winless run to four matches.

Struggling Stanley made just one change from the side which had lost at Carlisle on Boxing Day but reverted back to a more familiar 4-4-2.

Both teams were short of form and it was a nervy, low quality opening half an hour. Neither Aaron Chapman or debutant Grimsby keeper Ben Killop were unduly tested in the opening 30 minutes, though the Reds showed some promising signs with a spell of pressure and a McConville shot wide of the post.

It took 43 minutes for a real chance to arrive, McConville bending a fine free kick round the wall from the right side and forcing Killip to turn the ball behind before the rebound sprung to Kee inside the box and he somehow blazed over and Ben Richards-Everton then headed wide from a corner.

Grimsby didn’t muster a shot on target, all adding to the sense that the Reds could and perhaps should have led at the break.

After the restart they continued to press and probe and Jackson brought another good save out of Killip with a strike from a tight angle.

Stanley’s recent poor run had seen penalties bolster their goals tally and they were handed another chance from the spot 10 minutes into the second half. Janoi Donacien did well to beat Siriki Dembele down the left and cut the ball back to McConville racing into the box. The Reds captain made the most of a clip of his heels by Mitch Rose but the challenge was enough for Darren Drysdale to point to the spot. Kee sent Killip the wrong way, drilling in his 14th goal of the season.

John Coleman’s team were rediscovering the attacking swagger that had taken them to second just weeks before and they were soon two goals to the good. This time Kee was the provider, crossing from the right for an unmarked McConville to mark the birth of his third child the night before with a firm header off the underside of the bar.

Now the result seemed to not be in doubt and attentions turned to whether Jackson might end his goal drought. After then games without troubling the scorers the former Grimsby striker duly came good, surging away down the left channel and fizzing a fierce shot past Killip from an acute angle inside the area to make it 3-0.

Only then did Grimsby pose a real goal threat, only to find Chapman in the same form as his rejuvenated outfield team mates. The big keeper parried well from sub JJ Hooper, turned a strike from Luke Summerfield round the post and thwarted Harry Cardwell as he ensured his clean sheet would remain intact.

There was time for Coleman to introduce youth team players Niall Watson and Josh Hmami to give both a taste of the first team to them and an insight into the youth of his bench to those watching before the final whistle brought relief and delight after a performance that had finally been worth the wait.