Our youth team’s league campaign started with a defeat as Burton Albion left Cheapside with all three points on Saturday.
The Young Mariners worked hard against a skilful and physically strong Brewers side and had the better of the early chances but found themselves a goal down at the break after Che Ranger put the visitors ahead.
Town rallied after half-time and drew level through centre-back Finn Abraham but substitute Dylan Scott restored Burton’s lead and Charlie Knowles’ late strike put the result beyond doubt.
On a warm, sunny morning in Waltham, Neil Woods’ U18s were looking to open their EFL Youth Alliance league season with a positive result after a successful pre-season tour of Italy and a goalless draw at Stockport County in their first Youth Alliance Cup group match last week.
The home side started on the front foot, with striker Grayson Giles dragging a low shot wide of the target from the edge of the penalty area in the first chance of the game on seven minutes.
Shakeel Brown was involved in much of Town’s early attacking play and his low effort was pushed around the post by goalkeeper Kamil Dudek for a corner after Giles and Charlie Clements had linked up from the left.
Town continued to create openings and after Clements did well to win the ball in a dangerous area, Henry Brown called Dudek into action with a drive from 20 yards which the keeper got down to stop.
At the other end, Ranger was getting forward on the Burton left and his low cross was cut out by Billy Bradley but the resulting corner beat everybody and dropped past the far post.
The next away corner came just before the half-hour when a cross from Knowles on the right was blocked, and it led to the deadlock being broken. Connor Pace’s delivery was touched away from goal by Town keeper Will Mitchell but Burton kept possession and after an initial shot was blocked on the line, RANGER got to the rebound to force the ball into the net.
Grimsby’s response saw Shakeel Brown shoot at Dudek from the edge of the box, then he combined with Henry Brown but this time, was unable to create a chance in front of goal.
Jack Collins won a home corner three minutes before the break but the ball from the flag was headed wide by Abraham.
As the half moved into stoppage time, Giles had the Young Mariners’ best opportunity so far when he ran onto Alfie Foy’s defence-splitting through-ball but with Dudek racing off his line, the striker’s lob was just too high and Albion’s advantage remained intact at the interval.
A foul on Collins brought Town’s first chance of the second half to get the ball into the danger zone, although Shakeel Brown’s free kick was cleared at the edge of the penalty area.
Collins lifted a shot over the bar on 51 minutes and the equaliser arrived two minutes later, following a challenge in frustration by Cyprian Mtenga after Henry Brown had got away from him. Shakeel Brown’s free kick bounced in front of Dudek and when the danger was not fully dealt with by the away defence, the ball was worked back into the box for ABRAHAM to send it looping into the net.
A Town corner was headed clear as they aimed to complete the turnaround, then a stoppage came when Burton’s Pace went down with an injury and after receiving treatment, he was replaced by Jack Willow.
Henry Brown was off-target with an effort from the edge of the box after picking up a loose ball, before the away side’s second change saw Scott come on for Kia Svarc in attack just after the hour.
Mtenga showed good skill to turn into space and set off on a run down the right but good defending meant he was not able to make progress inside towards Mitchell’s goal.
Town were still posing a threat, with Cameron Walsh starting a number of attacks down the left as he brought the ball out of defence.
Clements did well to chase the ball down on 67 minutes, prevent it from going out for a goal kick and set up a shooting opportunity for Foy, whose attempt was deflected wide for a corner.
Moments later, a quick break by the visitors down their left resulted in a chance for Scott, who forced Mitchell to get down and make another stop.
And the Grimsby keeper was in action again on 69 minutes as he made a good save from Jack Newall’s header.
Tom Ronaldson replaced Collins for the Young Mariners with 20 minutes remaining, before a Burton corner from the right was headed clear by Abraham.
Foy was shown the yellow card for a foul on Mtenga but when the resulting free kick was sent into the Town box by Newall, Cameron Gilbert could only head wide.
Burton had another opportunity on 77 minutes when Newall found Knowles, although his shot was blocked for a corner and the delivery from the flag was headed away from danger.
The away pressure told soon afterwards though, as SCOTT’S low strike from the right beat the dive of Mitchell and crept into the far corner of the net.
Fortune Onoh replaced Henry Brown for Town after the goal but Scott went close to wrapping the points up for Burton when his effort from a central position went just over the bar.
Grimsby looked to respond to falling behind for a second time but Dudek was first to a cross from the right, then another chance went unconverted when Giles turned and shot from inside the penalty area but he was not able to generate enough power to beat the keeper.
Time was now against the hosts, who also introduced Harry Shipstone from the bench, and with a minute to go, Burton sealed their win when KNOWLES cut inside from the right, picked his spot and curled a brilliant strike past Mitchell to make it 3-1.
Town stuck to their task as the game moved into stoppage time but amid late yellow cards for both sides, they were unable to reduce the deficit and when a chipped free kick for a foul on Onoh was headed clear, the visitors were left to celebrate their win.
Town: Will Mitchell, Billy Bradley, Cameron Walsh, Henry Brown, Finn Abraham, Harvey Cribb, Shakeel Brown, Alfie Foy, Grayson Giles, Charlie Clements, Jack Collins
Subs: Fortune Onoh, Seb Anton, Tom Ronaldson, Finley Fletcher, Harry Shipstone
Burton Albion: Kamil Dudek, Cameron Gilbert, Che Ranger, Connor Pace, William Tamen, Bodi Thistleton, Charlie Knowles, Josh Taroni, Kia Svarc, Cyprian Mtenga, Jack Newall
Subs: Dylan Scott, Lewis Cleland, William Ademiluyi, Jack Willow, Matty Lay