YOUTH TEAM REPORT | Bradford City 0-2 Mariners

Two first-half goals earned our youth team an away victory over Bradford City and extended their winning run to four games.

Shakeel Brown got the Young Mariners off to a flying start in West Yorkshire as he put them ahead with less than a minute on the clock and Cameron Gardner doubled the advantage on the half-hour.

Town had chances to add to their lead in the second half, with Charlie Clements seeing a penalty well-saved by Bradford goalkeeper Zac Hadi after home substitute George Goodman was sent off, while an assured defensive display kept the hosts out at the other end.

Friday’s EFL Youth Alliance league encounter was played in wet and windy conditions at the Horsfall Community Stadium, home to Bradford (Park Avenue), with Jack Collins replacing Grayson Giles in the only change to the Grimsby starting XI following the impressive home victory over Rotherham United.

The away side were on the attack straight away and seconds later, they were on the scoresheet.  SHAKEEL BROWN’S cross from the right came back to him and he sent a low finish into the far corner of the net.

After getting a dream start to the contest, Town went on to dominate the early stages, with Collins winning a corner on the left before Harvey Cribb chipped a dangerous-looking ball into the penalty area, although on both occasions, the hosts cleared.

Gardner fired over the bar from 20 yards after a cushioned header from Clements set the ball up for him, then another nice move saw Gardner link up with Shakeel Brown on the right.  The striker cut inside but his low shot was blocked.

A Cribb volley from the edge of the box was deflected over the bar for a corner after more good play by Shakeel Brown, although the flag-kick from the left was cleared.

Another corner followed soon afterwards as the Town pressure continued and when it was not fully cleared, Alfie Foy’s return ball was met on the volley by Billy Bradley but his low effort was gathered by Bantams keeper Hadi.

The hosts were yet to threaten as the midway point of the first half passed but they were given an opportunity to create danger with a free kick on their right after Bilal Hussain was fouled on 23 minutes.  Gabe Wadsworth’s delivery was headed clear by Henry Brown.

Grimsby were still on top and after winning the ball on the left, Collins battled well to eventually earn a corner.  Shakeel Brown’s delivery from the flag picked Cameron Walsh out but his header dropped wide of the far post.

Another great cross from Shakeel Brown was met by Clements, whose header was deflected wide for a further corner as the Young Mariners continued to play some excellent football.

And their efforts were rewarded with a deserved second goal on 30 minutes.  After a neat build-up, Collins hit a cross-shot from the left and the ball was turned into the net by GARDNER.

Bradford looked to hit back three minutes later when they were given a free kick in a dangerous position to the left of centre but they were unable to make it count as Wadsworth fired over the bar.

A stoppage came seven minutes before the break for Hussain to receive treatment after going down injured and when play resumed with the winger fit to continue, Town aimed to add to their lead but Gardner was off-target with a 20-yard effort.

Henry Brown was denied by the keeper, who also got to the rebound first, before Wadsworth was shown the first yellow card of the game for bringing Walsh down on the away left.  Shakeel Brown’s free kick was met by Gardner at the far post, although his header was kept out by Hadi.

Wadsworth lifted a 25-yard strike over the bar in what was the last opportunity of the half for either side, as Grimsby goalkeeper Seb Auton remained untroubled and as the rain turned heavier, the visitors took a commanding lead into the dressing rooms with them at the interval.

Second Half

Bradford made a double-substitution before the restart in a bid to change the game in their favour, with Max Murray and Goodman coming on for Hussain and Leon Brooks.

And the hosts were much-improved in the early stages of the second half as they went forward in search of a way back into the contest. A clipped ball into the Town box was just too far away from striker Harry Ibbitson for him to profit, before a cross from Dylan Wilkinson on the home right was headed wide by Donald Kamwa.

Henry Brown volleyed off-target at the other end, then Walsh won a corner on the left but after the ball was played short from the flag, the Young Mariners were not able to create an opening from it.

Shakeel Brown went down inside the penalty area after cutting inside from the right at speed and after the referee waved play-on, the winger stayed down but was passed fit to continue following treatment.

A foul by Henry Brown on Freddy Jeffreys gave Bradford a platform to create danger from the centre-circle just before the hour but after the free kick was initially played short, Town keeper Auton was alert and came off his line to ensure he was first to Wilkinson’s low ball into the box.

Home substitute Goodman was booked for a foul on Clements near the halfway line on 61 minutes and just two minutes later, he was sent off after being shown a second yellow card.  This time, Henry Brown was brought down by the defender inside the penalty area and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, as well as reducing the hosts to 10 men.  Clements stepped up to take the penalty but Hadi got down to his left to tip the ball away for a corner at full-stretch and the flag-kick led to Collins heading over the bar.

Cribb became the next to see the yellow card when he was penalised for a shirt-pull on Ibbitson, then another double-change for Bradford saw Franklin Dennison and Noah Wadsworth replace Jeffreys and Lewis Boney.

A corner from the away right was tipped away from danger by Hadi but more pressure was to come, starting with Gardner doing well to block a clearance from the keeper.  The move led to a shot from Collins being saved, with Henry Brown’s rebound blocked.

Giles replaced Collins in the visitors’ first change on 80 minutes, before good play by Dennison set up a Bradford attack, although Kamwa’s cross was headed clear.

Walsh headed over the bar from a Cribb cross after a Town corner had been played short by Shakeel Brown, with the away side still looking for a third goal to cement their victory.

The Young Mariners were looking comfortable at 2-0 up though, with Auton’s target rarely coming under significant pressure as the home threat was dealt with by centre-back Finley Abrahams and his defensive unit.

Clements made way for Harry Shipstone with five minutes remaining and a Gardner volley was caught by Hadi after another good cross from Shakeel Brown, then Henry Brown went clear after taking advantage of a mistake but neither Giles nor Gardner could connect with the ball inside the box to finish the move.

Grimsby were finishing the game on the attack, just as they had started it, and Giles showed good strength to get in behind the home defence for one last shooting opportunity, although his low strike was well-blocked by the keeper.

Three added minutes were played at the end of the match before the referee’s final whistle confirmed another deserved win for Neil Woods’ Town side, with the three points taking them up to second in the EFL Youth Alliance North-East division league table ahead of Saturday’s fixtures.

Town: Seb Auton, Billy Bradley, Cameron Walsh, Harvey Cribb, Finley Abrahams, Alfie Foy, Shakeel Brown, Henry Brown, Cameron Gardner, Charlie Clements (Harry Shipstone, 85), Jack Collins (Grayson Giles, 80)

Subs not used: Will Mitchell, Jaxon Blankley, Finley Axcell

Bradford: Zac Hadi, Dylan Wilkinson, Fin Gledhill, Leon Brooks (George Goodman, 46), Lewis Boney (Noah Wadsworth, 72), Freddy Jeffreys (Franklin Dennison, 72), Oli Thompson, Gabe Wadsworth, Bilal Hussain (Max Murray, 46), Donald Kamwa, Harry Ibbitson

Sub not used: George Lord



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