Goals from Luis Boa Morte and Louis Saha were enough to see off Grimsby Town as First Division leaders Fulham returned to winning ways at Craven Cottage this afternoon.

The Whites were dominant from the outset as Lennie Lawrence’s Mariners settled largely on a damage limitation strategy, getting numbers behind the ball and making themselves difficult to break down. The visitors, who included five loanees in their starting line-up, were successful in keeping Jean Tigana’s side at bay for an hour – largely down to defensive discipline and outstanding display of goalkeeping from Danny Coyne.

The Town custodian was in fine form in the first half making magnificent saves to prevent Lee Clark, Luis Boa Morte and Rufus Brevett from putting the hosts ahead. Grimsby were fortunate not to go behind twice in quick succession midway through the first half when referee Paul Durkin waved away strong appeals for handball in the area against centre back Danny Butterfield and, then, Fabrice Fernandes saw a free-kick scrambled off the line by John McDermott before Sean Davis drove the rebound wide.

Fulham could still easily have headed into the interval in front but Boa Morte, suprisingly preferred up front to Louis Saha, was twice denied by Coyne. The same pattern continued into the second half as Coyne superbly tipped over a drive from distance by Bjarne Goldbaek that looked destined for the top corner. Saha was summoned from the bench shortly after that and Fulham’s top corner quickly tilted the game in their favour.

It was the Frenchman’s flick on that fell nicely for Lee Clark, whose vision was matched by a peerless pass that put Boa Morte in space inside the penalty area. The on-loan Southampton forward steered a shot past Coyne and into the far corner to finally fire Fulham in front. Saha doubled the lead with ten minutes to go when he punished Stacy Coldicott for surrendering possession with a fierce volley that gave Coyne absolutely no chance.

To their great credit, Grimsby kept battling to the end and halved their arrears with three minutes to play when Kevin Donovan smashed his first goal of the season after a superb solo run – but Fulham’s victory was far more comfortable than the 2-1 scoreline suggests.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Finnan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman; Davis, Clark, Goldbaek (Saha 56), Fernandes; Hayles, Boa Morte. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Melville, Sahnoun, W. Collins.

GOALS: Boa Morte (60), Saha (81).

GRIMSBY TOWN (4-4-2): Coyne; McDermott, Gallimore, Butterfield (Jeffrey 65), Fostervold; Burnett (Willems 75), Donovan, Campbell, Coldicott; Livingstone (Bloomer 45), Nielsen. Subs (not used): Croudson, Smith.

BOOKED: Fostervold.

GOAL: Donovan (87).

REFEREE: Paul Durkin (Dorset).