Our youth team got back to winning ways in the league with a comfortable 4-0 home victory over Hartlepool United on Saturday.
Under-16s midfielder Henry Brown marked his first start for the U18s with the opening goal, before Cameron Gardner doubled the Young Mariners’ advantage with just 13 minutes on the clock.
Harry Milner set up both of the first two goals and he got himself on the scoresheet with Town’s third, then substitute Brook Dennis added a fourth after the break.
Grimsby, second in the EFL Youth Alliance’s North-East division, returned to Cheapside after losing their two previous league games on the road, although they earned a 2-2 draw at Fleetwood in the Youth Alliance Cup last week.
They faced a Hartlepool side who sat second from bottom of the table at kick-off, with just one league victory to their name so far this campaign.
The visitors were first to settle and they had the ball in the net on four minutes when Harvey Ersoz slotted past Town keeper Dec Dennis, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Instead, the Young Mariners opened the scoring three minutes later from their first chance of the game. Shakeel Brown played the ball to Harry Milner on the right and he cut inside before sending it across the six-yard line, where Henry BROWN got the touch to take it past Pools stopper Jake Wilkinson.
The same combination of Shakeel Brown and Milner linked up again to create Town’s second goal and it was a similar move, as Milner was given the ball on the right and made his way into the box before rolling it across goal. This time, it was GARDNER who was in the right place to meet it and apply a simple finish to convert from close range.
After conceding twice in the space of six minutes, Hartlepool aimed to hit back and they won a corner on the right but Leo Robinson’s delivery was headed clear by Alex Markham.
Another corner came for the away side when Christian Lynn’s ball into the penalty area was put over his own bar by Henry Moore. Again though, they were unable to make it count as a strong header from Moore got the ball away.
At the other end, Gardner volleyed wide of the near post from a Tom Zerboni cross, then Markham sent a through-ball into the path of Milner but keeper Wilkinson was alert to the danger and raced off his line to beat the winger to it and clear for a throw-in.
A Milner cross from the right took a deflection and grazed the crossbar on its way out for a throw-in on the left, then another throw was cleared back to taker Zerboni and his cross was blocked for a corner. Shakeel Brown’s delivery from the flag was headed away at the near post.
A foul by Markham on Hartlepool’s Max Storey on 26 minutes led to the visitors coming within inches of halving their deficit. Storey got up to take the free kick from a central position and his 25-yard shot beat Dennis in the Town goal but bounced back off the bar. The rebound was hooked clear by Moore amid a handball shout from the away bench, which was ignored by the referee.
Moore was involved again just before the half-hour as he was first to a cross from Lynn on the away left, with the centre-back winning the initial header and then completing the clearance.
Town then won a corner at the other end through Milner and Louis Boyd’s ball from it found its way to Henry Brown before it was eventually cleared.
Hartlepool were given another chance to get themselves back into the contest on 34 minutes when a pass out of defence by Markham was intercepted by Lynn. He found Storey inside the box but Dennis was equal to his shot as he produced a good save.
Grimsby were still on top though and they went in search of a third goal before the interval, with Shakeel Brown playing an intelligent chip through for Gardner, who was stopped by a good challenge to get the ball away for a throw-in.
The hosts did not have to wait much longer to stretch their lead further and this time, MILNER turned from provider to scorer as he did well to win the ball on the right and cut into the box before hitting a shot from a narrow angle which the keeper could only divert into the net at his near post.
A first-time effort from striker Ryan Wright was well blocked by Dennis at the other end, before Boyd sent a 25-yard shot over the bar and Town’s final opportunity of the first half saw Wilkinson get down to stop Gardner’s shot on the turn following another Milner cross from the right.
No changes were made by either side at half-time and the hosts made a bright start after the break as Boyd nipped in to win the ball and Gardner battled well to take it further forward until the visitors got it away for a throw-in.
A flick from Shakeel Brown sent Boyd away down the left and his cross looked to have led to an opportunity after it was headed on but the offside flag then went up against Gardner as he met the ball at the far post.
Under-16s defender Cameron Walsh replaced Zerboni in Town’s first substitution on 54 minutes and they continued to dominate, with Gardner’s low ball from the right cleared before it could reach Boyd and Gardner himself then seeing a low shot from the edge of the box just miss the target at the near post.
Hartlepool had an opportunity to create some danger of their own on the hour when Shakeel Brown brought Storey down 25 yards out but this time, Storey could only send his free kick into the Town defensive wall.
Both sides made a change two minutes later, with Brook Dennis replacing Gardner up front for the Young Mariners and Lynden Ferguson coming on in place of Ersoz for the visitors.
Brook Dennis’ first action was a blocked shot after a cross from Walsh, then Dec Dennis got down to make a comfortable stop from Storey at the other end and soon afterwards, a curling shot from Wright on the Hartlepool left went just wide of the far post.
When the fourth goal came on 69 minutes, it was Town who extended their advantage as Hartlepool captain Campbell Darcy lost possession to Brook DENNIS near the halfway line and he raced clear through the middle before keeping his composure to slot past Wilkinson.
With the points safe, Grimsby boss Neil Woods took the opportunity to give more of his squad some game time as he made a further three substitutions over the course of a five-minute spell. Charlie Clements came on for Milner, Billy Bradley replaced Henry Brown and Finley Fletcher was sent on in place of right-back Callum Storr.
The home side continued to play good football and create openings, with a low ball from Shakeel Brown stopped by the keeper after a corner had been cleared back to him.
Another corner came when Brown’s shot was deflected behind after he chose to go for goal instead of slipping the ball to Boyd on his left but this time, the delivery from the flag caused no problems as it beat everybody and went out for a goal kick.
Hartlepool also made more changes as the clock ticked down, with Aaron Musgrave, Owen Burns and Toby Crawford all getting onto the pitch as Archie Small, Wright and Robinson made way.
The away side had stuck to their task well despite being 4-0 down and they had seen more of the ball in the second half but struggled to create good chances as Town remained solid at the back.
A final opportunity to pull a goal back came a minute into added time at the end of the game but Crawford lifted his 20-yard shot over the bar.
That ensured a clean sheet for the Young Mariners to go with their four goals and three league points.
Attention now turns to Tuesday night’s FA Youth Cup second round tie against Crewe Alexandra at Blundell Park, with kick-off at 7pm and the Upper Stand open for fans.
Town: Dec Dennis, Callum Storr (Finley Fletcher, 76), Tom Zerboni (Cameron Walsh, 54), Harry Thorpe, Alex Markham, Henry Moore, Harry Milner (Charlie Clements, 71), Henry Brown (Billy Bradley, 72), Cameron Gardner (Brook Dennis, 62), Shakeel Brown, Louis Boyd