Our U18s earned a hard-fought derby victory over local rivals Scunthorpe United in their latest EFL Youth Alliance league match yesterday.
Shakeel Brown’s early goal, combined with a solid defensive display, proved enough to settle a keenly-contested home clash against a strong Iron side featuring a number of players with first team experience.
The Young Mariners had an opportunity to make the scoreline more comfortable when Edwin Essel was brought down inside the box nine minutes into the second half but the striker’s penalty was well saved.
Nevertheless, they produced an excellent team performance and held off some late Scunthorpe pressure to move up to second in the league table after back-to-back wins and consecutive clean sheets following Saturday’s 1-0 success at Hartlepool.
The youth derby match was originally scheduled to be played in December but fell victim to freezing conditions. This time around, however, the weather could not have been more different as bright sunshine and a mild temperature greeted the two teams for the morning kick-off at Cheapside.
Town started strongly, with Essel battling well down the right, before a free kick came for a late challenge on Brown on the opposite flank. The ball from it was played short to Tom Zerboni and he linked up with Louis Boyd down the left, although the winger’s cross was cleared for a throw-in.
The first corner of the game was won by Essel on seven minutes and it turned into another when Brown’s near-post delivery was eventually put behind following a scramble. This time, Brown’s ball hit the near post and bounced away for a goal kick.
A Grimsby free kick came near the left touchline on 14 minutes when right-back Charlie Burden-Whittleton was penalised for handball but Brown’s far-post delivery was headed away.
Instead, the breakthrough came for Town a minute later. A great cross-field ball from Moore found Essel on the right and after he made progress, a low cross from George Sims was not dealt with and BROWN was in the right place to finish emphatically from close range.
Scunthorpe’s response saw a shot from Poulter blocked for a corner after a low cross by Tyrell Sellars-Fleming, although Charley Strouther’s ball from the flag was hooked clear by Will Hodgson at the near post.
Another Scunthorpe corner came when a low, left-wing cross was cut out and this time, it was Jamie Bramwell who dealt with the danger from it for Town.
The next opportunity came soon afterwards and was created by Brown, who turned away from his man and drove into the box from the right. He crossed towards the far post but the ball was headed away before Hodgson could get to it.
Soon afterwards, Essel won a corner on the Town right and after Scunthorpe defender Harry Elliott-Bell got the first contact on Boyd’s centre, Alex Markham’s follow-up header was cleared off the line.
Hodgson cleared another corner at the near post and French caught the follow-up cross as the away side pushed for an equaliser before half-time, then a foul by Alfie Foy gave them a free kick on the left. Again though, French came out to claim a catch when Burden-Whittleton sent the ball into the box.
At the other end, Hodgson fired over the bar from the edge of the box after Brown had cut inside following a throw-in on the right, then Zerboni forced Scunthorpe keeper Joshua Murtagh to get down and make a stop from his low, 20-yard strike.
No substitutions were made before the restart and the first attack of the second half came from Scunthorpe. Sellars-Fleming, who featured in the Iron first team’s recent National League games against Halifax and Bromley, set off on a strong run down the left and cut inside but his low cross was cleared.
A stoppage came when Zerboni and Scunthorpe captain Joshua Robertson both stayed down after a full-blooded block tackle near the left edge of the away penalty area. Both initially returned to the pitch after treatment but Zerboni was eventually unable to continue and was replaced by Cameron Gardner, with Hodgson moving to the left.
Town were given a chance to double their lead on 54 minutes when Essel beat the offside trap to get on the end of a long ball forward. He was brought down inside the box by the onrushing Murtagh and the referee pointed to the spot. After Murtagh was shown the yellow card, Essel got up to take the penalty but the goalkeeper redeemed himself, diving to keep the striker’s shot out and also getting to the rebound first to ensure the score remained at 1-0.
An opening for the home side came when an intelligent pass from midfielder Foy found Boyd inside the box and although the winger was unable to work the space to get a shot in, the move led to a corner on the right. Boyd took it but his delivery was headed over the bar and a goal kick was given.
Town were playing some good football as Scunthorpe used a more direct approach in their quest for a levelling goal. Harry Milner replaced Boyd in Grimsby’s second change on 67 minutes, before Bramwell was spoken to by the referee following a foul on Elliott-Bell.
Finn Abraham came on for Burden-Whittleton as Scunthorpe looked to their bench for the first time, before Essel was pulled down level with the left corner of the away penalty area to give Town a free kick in a promising position. Brown took it but his ball was headed away by Robertson and a follow-up strike by Milner cleared the bar.
Both sides made additional changes with 14 minutes to go, as Billy Bradley came on for Foy in the black and white of the hosts and Scunthorpe sent on Shay Larkin in place of Jack Moore-Billam, who has been featuring on loan at Cleethorpes Town.
Another run down the left by Sellars-Fleming resulted in a low cross which was cleared for a throw-in, then the away side’s best opportunity so far came on 80 minutes, when Poulter went down in a central position on the edge of the box. The referee blew for a free kick and the striker got up to take it himself but his low effort was blocked and the ball was cleared from danger.
Charlie Clements came on for Essel with six minutes remaining, before Lucas Dickinson replaced the injured Harvey Cribb for Scunthorpe four minutes later.
The visitors were now pushing forward, aided by a string of free kicks, as they aimed to rescue a point from what had been an entertaining encounter.
But the Young Mariners were resolute and determined to hold on for all three points as Strouther saw a low free kick cleared, then another set piece was thwarted as the ball into the box was headed away.
After an 18-yard attempt by Sellars-Fleming was blocked, it proved to be Scunthorpe’s last chance to get anything from the game as Town were rewarded for a hardworking performance with a deserved victory.
The win saw them climb two places to second in the EFL North East Youth Alliance league table, where they sit three points behind leaders Harrogate Town after the North Yorkshire side’s 2-0 victory over Rotherham United at the same time.
The Young Mariners are next in action on Saturday morning, when they travel to face Mansfield Town.