Youth Match Report | Grimsby Town 3 – 2 Preston North End

A last-minute Shakeel Brown winner earned Grimsby Town a victory over Preston North End in the Youth Alliance Cup.

After losing their group stage opener against Bolton Wanderers, the Young Mariners bounced back with a deserved win at the Bradley Football Development Centre on Wednesday afternoon.

Brook Dennis’ first-half brace gave Town a commanding lead but Noah Mawene halved the deficit before the interval and went on to level the scores eight minutes after the hour.

Town were not to be denied though and Preston’s fightback proved in vain as Brown grabbed the decisive goal.

Before the game, a minute’s silence was observed in tribute to Her Majesty The Queen.

Grimsby started well and won an early free kick on the right after a foul on Dennis but Harry Milner’s delivery into the penalty area was headed clear.

Louis Boyd hit the side-netting from the left after being found inside the box by Brown, then Preston’s first attack of note led to a blocked shot from Kitt Nelson.

Town won the first corner on 10 minutes and after Brown’s ball from the left was pushed clear by keeper Tommy Davies, a shot from Boyd was blocked.

A Preston corner at the other end was dealt with by the home defence, then a foul on Brown gave Town a free kick inside the Preston half but the ball from it was cleared after it had been headed across goal.

The Young Mariners went close to taking the lead on 17 minutes after a shot from Brown was blocked for a corner and from the flag-kick, an Alex Markham header was cleared off the line.

A corner from the away right went harmlessly out for a goal kick, then Preston striker Finlay Cross Adair was off-target with a shot from a narrow-angle.

Tom Zerboni won a corner at the other end for the hosts but Brown’s delivery had too much power on it for Dennis, who could only head wide at the far post.

Town had played the better football so far and on 27 minutes, they took a deserved lead when DENNIS ran onto a through-ball and sent a composed finish over the advancing Davies.

A strong run by Billy Bradley took him up the pitch as the home side immediately looked for a second goal but the attack came to an end as he was unable to find a team-mate.

The away side had rarely threatened Dec Dennis in the Town goal so far but the keeper was called into action on the half-hour as he got down to make a good save from Jacub Slater’s low drive.

And seconds later, the Young Mariners doubled their advantage when Will Hodgson found DENNIS and he took a touch before rifling past Davies and into the net from inside the box.

Soon afterwards, Boyd set off on a great run down the left but was crowded out after cutting inside, then a Preston corner from their right beat everybody and went out for a throw-in.

Town were continuing to play good football and another attack saw Bradley combine with Milner but Milner’s pull-back was intercepted before it could reach Dennis.

Preston began to come into the game more as half-time approached and after a period of possession, they pulled a goal back.  MAWENE was the one to hit the net after the ball had bounced around the box following a great save from keeper Dennis.

Grimsby aimed to get their two-goal cushion back before the break and they had an opportunity to do so when Zerboni burst through the middle and passed to Dennis inside the penalty area.  Zerboni called for the ball back but the striker opted to shoot and his low effort was stopped by Davies to ensure it remained 2-1 at the interval.

After the restart, a foul by Zerboni gave Preston a free kick on their right and from it, they were unfortunate not to equalise.   The ball into the box from Rio Pemberton was not fully dealt with by the Town defence and after Dennis made a great save, Mawene’s curling strike bounced off both posts before the danger was finally cleared.

Good defending by Harry Thorpe held Finlay Cross Adair up as he looked to make progress from the away left, with the right-back eventually winning a free kick for his team.

At the other end, a cross-field pass from Milner found Boyd in space on the left.  He cut inside and gave the ball to Hodgson, whose whipped shot forced Davies into a good save to push it out for a corner, which was cleared.

A spell of Preston pressure followed around the hour mark, with the Town defence having to deal with two corners before a low strike by Ellis Horan was gathered by Dennis at the second attempt.

Henry Burt replaced Bradley as Town made a change, before striker Dennis was almost rewarded for his effort to chase down a ball back to Davies as he blocked the keeper’s clearance.  Unfortunately for the attacker, the ball spun away from goal.

Soon afterwards, Preston got themselves level after a shot by Kaedyn Kamara was blocked for a corner and from the flag, Pemberton’s delivery was headed into the net at the far post by MAWENE for his second goal of the game.

The away side looked to have created a chance to take the lead when Cross Adair was played in by Kamara but the attack was ended by the offside flag, with the striker then firing over the bar after the referee’s whistle had blown.

Cameron Gardner, who had come on in place of Milner for Town, was booked for a foul on the away left, before the third home substitution saw Charlie Clements replace Boyd on 77 minutes.

Kamara sent a 25-yard effort off-target for the visitors, then a Hodgson free kick from the right was dropped by the keeper but cleared before anybody in black and white could take advantage.

Cross Adair fired over the bar from 20 yards, before Mawene had a chance to complete his hat-trick and win the game with five minutes to go.  He got in between the Town centre-backs and connected with a cross from the left but sent his free header wide.

Instead, it was left to Brown to settle the contest after running onto Hodgson’s ball.  As Davies raced off his line and out of his penalty area, the attacker confidently beat the keeper before slotting into the empty net and racing away towards the corner flag in celebration.

Town still had to get through more than five minutes of added time and Gardner did well to win a corner on the left after a strong run by Brown down the opposite flank.

Hodgson was shown the yellow card for a shirt-pull as the seconds ticked down but the resulting free kick led to the last action of the game, as the full-time whistle blew when a strong header from Henry Moore got the ball clear.

The victory was a just reward for a hardworking performance from the Young Mariners, who were solid at the back throughout and played some excellent football in attack.

They will now return to league action with a trip to Harrogate Town on Saturday.


Town: Dec Dennis, Thorpe, Zerboni, Bradley (Burt), Markham, Moore, Milner (Gardner), Hodgson, Brook Dennis, Brown, Boyd (Clements)

Preston: Davies, Taylor, Slater, Horan, Wallbank, Best, Pemberton (Eccleston), Mawene, Cross Adair, Kamara, Nelson


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