Match Report | Derby County 3 – 1 Grimsby Town

Grimsby Town’s Papa John’s Trophy campaign opened with a defeat as they were beaten by League One Derby County at Pride Park.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s early goal opened the scoring as the hosts signalled their intent with a fast start.

The Mariners grew into the contest as the first half went on and created chances as they looked for an equaliser, with Stephen Wearne twice going close.

But Derby, relegated from the Championship last season, showed their quality as two quickfire goals just before half-time from Louie Sibley and captain Max Bird took the result beyond the visitors’ reach.

Town refused to let their heads drop as they pushed forward after the break in search of a way back into the game.

And they were rewarded for their efforts with a deserved goal two minutes from time as Brendan Kiernan got on the scoresheet.

Grimsby boss Paul Hurst took the opportunity to rotate his squad but despite the starting XI showing eight changes from the team that began Saturday’s league victory at Walsall, it still had a strong look about it.

Max Crocombe, Andy Smith and Harry Clifton were the only ones to remain in the line-up for both games, with Jordan Cropper, Shaun Pearson, Smith and Danny Amos starting in defence in front of goalkeeper Crocombe.  Jordan Maguire-Drew, Clifton, Evan Khouri and Wearne were the midfielders, with Kiernan pushing up to support striker Aribim Pepple.

The substitutes were Ollie Battersby, Michee Efete, Anthony Glennon, Kieran Green, Bryn Morris, Danilo Orsi and Aaron Braithwaite.

Derby interim manager Liam Rosenior also named a strong side, with Republic of Ireland international striker James Collins leading the line in attack and experienced goalkeeper Scott Loach making his debut after joining the Rams from Chesterfield.

Pepple created an early opening as he turned and broke through the middle but after playing the ball left, Wearne was crowded out.

Derby went on to take the lead on six minutes from their first attack of note.  Lewis Dobbin took the ball into the box and when he pulled it back across goal, an attempted clearance hit Smith and bounced onto the post, with MENDEZ-LAING then given the simple task of tapping the rebound into the net from close range.

Town’s response saw them win a free kick on the right, although Maguire-Drew’s delivery was caught by Loach.

Dobbin cut inside from the left and curled a shot past the far post on 10 minutes, before a cross from the home right was headed away for a throw-in by Cropper.

Dobbin was proving to be the main threat in the early stages and he played a through-ball into the box for Collins on 14 minutes but the striker could not get it under control and it went through to Crocombe.

Kiernan won Town’s first corner at the other end four minutes later but they were unable to cause any problems from it as a cross from Clifton went past the far post for a goal kick.

A good spell of Mariners possession soon afterwards led to an opportunity for Kiernan, although his low strike rolled wide of the far post.

The home side then created another chance as the influential Dobbin cut inside from the left and crossed for Collins but his volley was saved by Crocombe, who was then fouled.

Smith was in the right place to clear a low ball from Collins after more good skill by Dobbin saw him go past Clifton, before the Hull City loanee was involved again as he put in a block to deny Sibley.

Cropper’s first opportunity to use his long throw came on the half-hour and after it was initially headed clear by Collins, Town kept possession and a shot from Pepple was deflected away for a corner.

Another corner came soon afterwards as the visitors kept their pressure up but this time, Pearson was penalised for a foul as he jumped to meet Maguire-Drew’s ball from the left flag.

Town were growing into the game after their hosts had dominated the opening quarter, although a quick Derby break led to a corner when Smith got back to challenge Collins.  The ball was played short from the flag and Dobbin’s cross was headed clear.

Another Grimsby corner followed on 37 minutes but after the ball eventually broke for Wearne, he could only fire wide from 12 yards.

Wearne went close again seconds later as the Mariners continued to threaten.  This time, keeper Loach denied the winger with a good save after he had been picked out by Cropper’s low pull-back from the right.

Dobbin volleyed wide at the near post at the other end after meeting a cross from Haydon Roberts on the left, then Roberts was caught offside as the home side attacked again on 41 minutes.

A minute later, they doubled their advantage as Mendez-Laing cut in from the right, looked up and pulled the ball back for SIBLEY, who beat Crocombe with a good finish from 12 yards.

And Derby went on to add a third before the break as a Sibley free kick from the left broke for BIRD on the edge of the box and he hit a brilliant, first-time shot past Crocombe and into the far corner of the net.

One added minute was played at the end of the half and after creating chances at 1-0, the Mariners will feel they could have got themselves level.  But Derby’s extra quality saw them stretch further ahead and Town were left with a huge task after the interval to get back into the game.

Morris replaced Wearne before the restart and a cross from Amos on the left led to the first corner of the second half.  Maguire-Drew’s ball was headed clear as far as Khouri on the edge of the box but his shot was blocked.

A corner came at the other end soon afterwards and it eventually led to Mendez-Laing curling a shot wide.

A foul on Kiernan gave Town a free kick in a promising position on the left but Maguire-Drew’s ball into the box from it was headed clear.

Kiernan won a corner on 56 minutes but again, Loach was not tested from it as the whistle blew for a foul after the ball had been scrambled away from danger.

Bird became the first to be shown the yellow card a minute later after a foul on Khouri and he was followed into the referee’s notebook by Amos, who was booked for a foul in midfield.

The hosts made a triple-substitution on the hour, with former Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick replacing Sibley as Jason Knight came on for Dobbin and Mendez-Laing made way for Tom Barkhuizen.

McGoldrick was quickly into the action as he was fouled by Morris on the home right.  Bird’s free kick was headed clear by Smith.

Green came on for Clifton and Orsi replaced Pepple as Town made two changes of their own and Green had a good chance to pull a goal back when he got on the end of a left-wing cross from Kiernan but the midfielder could only head the ball over the bar.

McGoldrick combined with Barkhuizen on 67 minutes to create an opportunity at the other end, although the winger could only send the ball tamely wide of Crocombe’s far post.

A run through the middle by defender Jake Rooney looked to have given the hosts another opening but the move broke down and Town’s deficit remained at three goals.

Amos sliced an effort wide as the Mariners kept looking for a way back into the game, before Darren Robinson replaced Bird in Derby’s fourth substitution.

A shot from Kiernan was blocked after a long throw from Cropper dropped for him, then a Town corner from the left caused no damage in front of goal.

Crocombe stopped a low cross from Barkhuizen, before Braithwaite was sent on in place of Amos in the visitors’ latest change.

Collins fired straight at Crocombe with eight minutes to go, before Kiernan was unable to get enough on his header to direct it towards goal after meeting a cross from the right.

Bartosz Cybulski came on for Liam Thompson in Derby’s final change, before Orsi got on the end of a Maguire-Drew cross but his header was hooked clear off the line.

Town kept going and with two minutes to go, they got the goal that their efforts had deserved, as Maguire-Drew crossed from the right for KIERNAN, who beat Loach with a low finish back across goal.

Three minutes of added time were played and Derby almost grabbed a fourth goal with the last action of the game but Collins narrowly failed to get on the end of McGoldrick’s ball to the far post.

That meant it finished in a 3-1 defeat for the Mariners, who will host Mansfield Town in their next Group F game on September 20, before Manchester City U21 visit Blundell Park for the final group fixture on October 18.

Before that, attention will shift back to the league programme, starting with Saturday’s long trip to Newport County.


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