YOUTH TEAM REPORT | Mariners defeat Mansfield

Grimsby Town’s youth team bounced back from their first league defeat since August by coming from behind to beat Mansfield Town on Saturday.

The visitors were on top for much of the first half on the 3G pitch at the Bradley Football Development Centre and they deservedly led at the break after Alfie King opened the scoring.

But the Young Mariners were much-improved after half-time and they turned the scoreline around within 13 minutes of the restart through a Grayson Giles equaliser and a fantastic solo effort from Charlie Clements, to secure three well-earned EFL Youth Alliance league points.

Three changes were made to the Grimsby team after Doncaster Rovers’ last-minute 3-2 win in midweek saw the South Yorkshire side become the first since Burton Albion on the opening day of the season to beat Neil Woods’ men in the league.  Callum Storr, Fortune Onoh and Henry Burt came into the XI, with Fin Abraham, Alfie Foy and Jack Collins making way.

Goalkeeper Seb Auton was fit to start after picking up an injury during the clash with Doncaster and he was called into early action to make a good save from Mansfield striker McKeal Abdullah.  Fin Flanagan was off-target from the rebound.

The away side had made the stronger start but a brilliant double-block by Finley Axcell prevented them from taking the lead after the ball was squared to Ronnie Kokkinos.

Town struggled to play their way into the game in the early stages, although Cameron Gardner had an opening when a long goal kick was flicked on to him.  The striker could only lift his shot over the bar from 20 yards, however.

More positive signs were to come for the hosts as the clock ticked past the 15-minute mark, with Harvey Cribb seeing a shot caught by keeper Anthony Nunes after Gardner had done well to chase the ball down on the left and pull it back for the midfielder on the edge of the box.

Giles hit the side-netting as he charged down a clearance from Nunes, before a cross from Kokkinos at the other end was headed away by Storr.

The opening goal came on 24 minutes and gave Mansfield the lead.  Kokkinos and Abdullah linked up on the edge of the area before the ball was played right to KING, who found the net with a neat finish into the far bottom corner.

Town almost had an opportunity to deliver an instant response when Gardner got in behind the away defence but he was unable to bring the ball under control after a high bounce on the artificial surface.

Flanagan was shown the first yellow card of the game on 26 minutes after pulling Cribb back as he ran through the middle.  Storr played the resulting free kick short to Shakeel Brown but his ball into the box was headed clear.

A whipped shot from King was gathered by Auton at the second attempt, before Brown saw another free kick headed clear and Gardner hit the post from a narrow angle after running onto a ball from Storr.

Gardner was involved again on 38 minutes when his shot was blocked for a corner after Cribb had brought the ball forward from midfield.  Brown’s delivery from the flag was headed away by defender Louis Bonser.

Burt was booked after a foul on Flanagan as the first half moved into added time, then Onoh needed treatment after going down near the halfway line, although he rejoined the action when play resumed.

Town’s best chance of the half was still to come as Giles won the ball on the edge of the box in the second additional minute but Gardner’s strike went just wide to ensure Mansfield’s advantage remained intact at the interval.


Foy and Collins replaced Burt and Onoh in a double-substitution for the Young Mariners before the restart and an early strike by Cribb was blocked after Giles had held the ball up.

Town were looking brighter in the early stages of the second half and six minutes in, they found their equaliser.  Gardner took the ball to the edge of the box before finding GILES, whose low shot back across goal beat Nunes and nestled in the bottom corner of the net.

A push on Giles gave the home side a free kick midway inside the Mansfield half as they immediately set off in search of another goal, although Brown’s delivery into the box from the right was headed clear.

Town were not to be denied for much longer though and they completed the turnaround in spectacular style on 58 minutes.  CLEMENTS cut inside on a run from the right and found the far corner of the net with a superb curling strike from 25 yards.

Having earned the advantage, the Young Mariners looked to add to it and a cross from Brown on the right was headed away from danger before it could reach Cribb.

A header from Abdullah at the other end flew over the bar after the striker had met a cross from Elliott Hartmann at the far post, then a corner from the away right was headed away by Storr, as was the return ball into the box.

Cribb was booked for a late challenge on King, before Nunes got down to stop a low effort from Gardner in Town’s next attack.

Mansfield had not been as threatening in the second half, with Bradley, Axcell and Storr all looking solid in the home defence.

Gardner won a Grimsby corner on the right on 77 minutes after linking up with Giles but after Brown’s ball came back to him, his cross-shot drifted wide of the far post.

More good defending by Storr saw him intercept and clear after Kokkinos pulled the ball back towards Abdullah inside the box, then Nunes was called into action at the other end as he got down to make a save from Gardner.  The rebound was pulled back towards Collins but the ball was cleared from danger.

Auton and Flanagan both stayed down after a collision when the Town keeper came off his line to punch a cross away, although both were passed fit to play on after receiving treatment.

Dan Organ replaced Bailey Hamilton as Mansfield made a change with six minutes to go and a further stoppage came when the away side’s Cormac Maher went down on the halfway line.  He was also able to continue after treatment.

As the game moved into added time, Giles did well to win a corner on the home right and Brown’s delivery from it was met by Bradley, although the referee penalised the Grimsby captain for a foul as he climbed to win the header.

Town were required to do more defending as the visitors attacked in a bid to snatch a point and with seconds remaining, they were awarded a free kick in a promising position.  It was taken quickly but when a shot from Organ was blocked, the referee’s final whistle confirmed an excellent home victory.

The Young Mariners will also face Mansfield in their next game, this time in the northern area semi-final of the Youth Alliance Cup.

Town: Seb Auton, Callum Storr, Billy Bradley, Harvey Cribb, Finley Axcell, Henry Burt (Alfie Foy, 46), Shakeel Brown, Fortune Onoh (Jack Collins, 46), Grayson Giles, Cameron Gardner, Charlie Clements
Subs not used: Will Mitchell, Jaxon Blankley, Tom Rennardson

Mansfield: Anthony Nunes, Elliott Hartmann, Louis Bonser, Fin Flanagan, Lewis Warnaby, Cormac Maher, Alfie King, Ollie Taylor, McKeal Abdullah, Ronnie Kokkinos, Bailey Hamilton (Dan Organ, 84)
Subs not used: Harvey Scott, Che Whitman-Brown, Harrison Leach, Callum Johnson



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