YOUTH TEAM REPORT | Grimsby Town 0-0 Mansfield Town (5-4)

Seb Auton’s penalty heroics took our youth team past Mansfield Town and into the northern area final of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup.

The Young Mariners were on top for much of their semi-final at the Bradley Football Development Centre on Saturday but were unable to find a breakthrough inside the 90 minutes, although Charlie Clements saw a goal disallowed for offside.

Mansfield came into the game as Youth Alliance North East league leaders and fresh from a 9-0 victory over Huddersfield Town in their previous fixture but they rarely threatened over the course of this encounter, which went straight to penalties after ending 0-0.

And after Town scored from all five of their spot-kicks, Auton made himself the hero when he dived to keep Ollie Taylor out from Mansfield’s fifth sport kick and set up a northern final against Preston North End.

Two changes were made to the Grimsby team as they looked to bounce back from their midweek 3-2 defeat at Harrogate Town, with Finn Abraham and Harvey Cribb coming in for Harry Shipstone and Shakeel Brown.

The hosts won the first corner in the opening minute but the delivery from the left was headed wide by Clements.

A Henry Brown free kick was headed through to away goalkeeper Anthony Nunez soon afterwards, before a Henry Burt cross from the right landed on the roof of the net as Town continued to take the early initiative.
A Brown cross was cleared, then Grayson Giles hit a low effort from the edge of the penalty area which the keeper got down to stop.

Giles was stopped by a good challenge on the edge of the box as Town attacked again on 15 minutes, with Brown then seeing a shot blocked when the loose ball fell for him.

A Giles cross-shot was stopped by Nunez, then a Clements cross from the left was cut out before it could reach Giles and another ball to the far post was cleared after it had been headed down by Brown.

Mansfield were yet to threaten as the 20-minute mark passed and defender Lewis Warnaby became the first to see the referee’s yellow card after a foul on Burt in midfield.  The referee played an advantage and Brown sent a low shot wide from 18 yards.

Cribb fired over the bar after good link-up play between Jack Collins and Giles as the hosts continued to dominate, before Giles worked an opening on the edge of the box but was stopped by a good challenge from Warnaby.

Abraham conceded a corner just after the half-hour but it did not lead to a chance in front of goal, then a chipped cross at the other end was met by Gardner, although he was unable to get enough power on his header to trouble Nunez.

Town keeper Auton was called into action for the first time on 34 minutes and he did well to watch and deal with a high, looping ball from a ricochet.

Brown then got away from a shirt-pull by Harvey Scott on the halfway line and ran into space on the right on 40 minutes, although when he got to the by-line and pulled the ball back across goal, it was claimed by Nunez.

One added minute was played at the end of the first half and despite being on top throughout, the Young Mariners had been unable to take advantage as the game remained goalless at the break.


Mansfield made a substitution before the restart, with Scott going off, and an early foul by Burt gave them a chance to get the ball into the box, although the free kick from the left was volleyed clear.

A foul on Collins then gave Town a free kick in a dangerous position on the left, although Brown’s low ball from it was cut out at the near post for a corner.  This time, Brown’s delivery was flicked wide by Clements.

Gardner cut inside from the right on 51 minutes and found Burt but he was crowded out on the edge of the penalty area.  The ball eventually went out for a corner but Finley Axcell’s header from it was off-target.

Town had the ball in the net two minutes later when a powerful strike by Gardner stung the palms of Nunez.  Clements followed up to beat the keeper from the rebound but the offside flag went up against him and the goal was ruled out.

Collins produced a good save from Nunez at his near post after an intelligent pass from Gardner to pick the left winger out.  The resulting corner was held up inside the box by Gardner but he was unable to work an opening and Mansfield cleared.

Auton then dived to push a cross-shot from Che Whitman-Brown away from danger at the other end after the winger had cut into the box from the left.

Brown won a corner for Town on 68 minutes but the ball from the flag beat everybody.  Billy Bradley retrieved it on the left, although his return ball was caught by Nunez.

A stoppage came for Nunez to receive treatment after going down with an injury and despite going down for a second time soon afterwards, he was passed fit to continue.

Striker Dan Organ was replaced for the visitors in their second substitution with 17 minutes to go, with Town still on top.

A Clements cross was blocked for a corner amid handball shouts but the delivery from the flag was cleared.  The home side kept possession though and when the ball was sent back into the box, it was headed back across goal but Giles, stretching, was unable to turn it into the net.

Alfie Foy replaced Burt in Town’s first change on 83 minutes, before Clements was booked for dissent.

Mansfield won a corner when a Louis Bonser cross was blocked but the delivery from the flag caused no problems as Brown cleared.

A Whitman-Brown cross went all the way across goal as the away side attacked again, before Alfie King was flagged offside as he looked to have an opening at the near post.

Time was now running out for either side to find a winning goal inside the 90 minutes, with an effort from Gardner blocked for a corner as the game moved into added time.  Foy’s delivery from the right was caught by Nunez.

With penalties looming to decide the tie, Nunez was replaced in the away goal by Harrison Leech.

And with no further opportunities coming in the three additional minutes that followed, it was straight to spot-kicks for a place in the area final.

Town took the first penalty and Giles beat Harrison, before Ronnie Kokkinos converted Mansfield’s first kick.

Bradley, Clements, Foy and Gardner all scored to give the Young Mariners a perfect record of five penalties out of five, with Bonser, Whitman-Brown and King all on-target for Mansfield, before Auton saved the decisive spot-kick from Taylor to put Town through 5-4 on penalties.

Grimsby will head to Preston for the area final on March 23, with the winners of that game to face Portsmouth in the national final.

Before then, the Young Mariners are back in league action on Tuesday, when they travel to Burton Albion.

Town: Seb Auton, Finley Axcell, Billy Bradley, Finn Abraham, Harvey Cribb, Henry Burt (Alfie Foy, 83), Henry Brown, Charlie Clements, Grayson Giles, Cameron Gardner, Jack Collins
Subs not used: Will Mitchell, Jaxon Blankley, Harry Shipstone, Tom Rennardson

Mansfield: Anthony Nunez, Harvey Scott, Louis Bonser, Bailey Hamilton, Lewis Warnaby, Cormac Maher, Alfie King, Ollie Taylor, Dan Organ, Ronnie Kokkinos, Che Whitman-Brown
Subs: Cheetham, Spink, Harrad, Monington, Leech



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