Bob Booker continued where Steve Coppell left off as he launched his bid to take over the Albion hot seat.

Coppell said farewell to Albion with a 3-0 home win against Blackpool and it was a case of different manager, same result against the struggling Mariners.

The message from the players to chairman Dick Knight with an ultimately comprehensive victory was clear - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

It is hardly surprising they want Booker to keep the job. Self preservation is motivation enough.

The sceptics would also argue, with some justification, that one match means little.

They would doubtless point to that opening 3-1 triumph for Martin Hinshelwood at Burnley last season and the positive results while Jeff Wood was caretaker.

As soon as Wood was handed the job permanently, Albion's fortunes nosedived.

On the other hand, is it fair that history alone should rule Booker out of the running?

He has surely earned his chance after serving under Micky Adams, Peter Taylor, Hinshelwood and Coppell, and staying loyal when Adams tried to entice him to Leicester.

Following two failed internal appointments, perhaps it would be third time lucky for Knight if, as Adams was so fond of saying, he "keeps the faith".

One thing is certain, results while he is at the helm will be absolutely crucial to Booker's case. In that respect this was a promising start.

He dedicated the win to his old boss, who was first on the phone to congratulate him after spending the afternoon studying tapes of the Reading team he has just taken over.

"I am pleased first of all for Steve Coppell," Booker said. "He rang me up straight away after the game and he was as pleased as anybody.

"I would like to thank the staff and players for the way they conducted themselves through a difficult week and it's nice to come out of it with three points for the club."

That was far from a formality after a flat and anxious first half performance, for which Booker harshly blamed himself.

"I think the first half was down to me," he said. "I was nervous before the game, having never done this before, and perhaps there was a little bit of that in the players. We were very edgy."

Managers earn their money during the interval, which affords them a precious opportunity to right wrongs. Booker's first pep talk had the desired effect.

"I managed to settle them down at half time and we came out in the second half and put on a better performance," he said.

"I didn't say a lot to them, just to relax and play their football.

"There were a couple of tactical things. We thought we should have got Gary Hart in the game a bit more and we told them to pick up the tempo of the game.

"Grimsby set their stall out to make it frustrating for us and we needed to play at a higher pace, move the ball quicker which we did, and create chances which we did. It was a big step up from the first half."

It is often said better a lucky manager than a good one and the breakthrough for Albion eight minutes into the restart had an element of fortune about it.

Grimsby were caught unawares by a quickly taken corner. Leon Knight crossed low for Zesh Rehman to sidefoot in right-footed from 15 yards.

It was, in stark contrast to his debut goal at Rushden, a mis-hit by the on-loan Fulham youngster, which wrong-footed Aidan Davison.

Two minutes later the match was effectively over. Hart, returning from ankle trouble, found Knight unmarked with a cross from the right.

Knight had headed over in similar circumstances from a quickly taken free-kick by Richard Carpenter in the first half.

This time Davison somehow blocked his header from point blank range, but Albion's seemingly unstoppable leading marksman made no mistake from the rebound.

A penalty three minutes into stoppage time, when Chris McPhee was brought down by sub Greg Young, presented Knight with the chance for his third double of the season.

Knight wanted to score from the spot in the opening day victory at Oldham, but Darius Henderson was having none of it.

With Henderson back at Reading, McPhee was eager to assume the responsibility, but Danny Cullip ordered it to be left to Knight and no-one was about to argue with the fit-again captain.

Knight duly lifted his season's tally into double figures and the Seagulls' sequence of wins at fortress Withdean to four.

No goals have been conceded during that period. It is now more than seven hours since Ben Roberts was beaten by Swindon's Sam Parkin.

Michel Kuipers, maintaining the form he has been in since returning from his loan spell at Hull, kept the run of clean sheets going with a breathtaking one-handed save in the first half from the towering Tony Crane's header.

Events elsewhere could hardly have been more obliging for Albion. Suddenly there is daylight between them and the chasing pack.

Iain Dowie, one of Booker's main rivals for the job, guided Oldham to a 2-1 win against Port Vale.

The Seagulls were the only winners among the sides who on Friday filled the top seven places, although QPR didn't play. What's that about being a lucky manager!

ALBION (4-4-2): Kuipers (gk) 8; Mayo (lb) 7, Cullip (cd) 7, Knight (f) 9, Hart (rm) 7, Carpenter (cm) 7, Butters (cd) 8, Jones (lm) 7, McPhee (f) 7, Hinshelwood (rb) 7, Rehman (cm) 7. Subs: Pethick, Piercy, Harding, Flitney, Robinson.

Scorers: Rehman (53), Knight (55 and 90 pen).

Bookings: None.

GRIMSBY (4-4-2): Davison; McDermott, Crane, Campbell, Boulding, Hamilton, Anderson, Edwards, Crowe, Daws, Onuora. Subs: Jevons, Bolder, Young for Crane (injured 58), Hockless for Boulding (withdrawn 82), Soames for Anderson (withdrawn 73).

Bookings: None.

Half-time: Albion 0 Grimsby 0.

Attendance: 6,286.

Fan's View: Terry Trumpess (Worthing).

What an excellent start for Bob Booker!

The Albion are now four points in the lead at the top of Division Two and if he can deliver four wins on the bounce then I see no reason why the permanent manager's job shouldn't be his.

The first half was a bit scrappy but maybe because of the managerial situation the Albion were actually trying too hard.

Whatever Booker said to his team at half time it did the trick as they certainly raised their game in the second period and ran out comfortable winners.

My message to Dick Knight is clear, you concentrate on delivering Falmer and leave the team matters to Bob Booker.

Don't dwell on what's gone on before, look to the future. The future's bright, the future's Booker.