Our youth team’s six-match unbeaten run came to an end with a frustrating derby defeat away at Scunthorpe United.
The Young Mariners had some long spells of pressure during a tight EFL Youth Alliance league contest at Appleby-Frodingham FC’s Brumby Hall ground on Saturday morning.
But they were unable to seriously test Iron goalkeeper Ewan Oxborough and they were made to pay for a lack of cutting edge in attack when home substitute Josh Cunningham scored what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Town’s U18s started the day three points clear at the top of the league’s north-east division and Brook Dennis and Louis Boyd came into the team for the short trip to North Lincolnshire in place of Edwin Essel and Harvey Tomlinson, who have both started loan spells away from the club.
In a scrappy first half of few genuine opportunities, the hosts had the best early chance when striker Tyrell Sellars-Fleming met a cross from the right and powered a header towards goal, only for Grimsby keeper Dec Dennis to make a brilliant reaction save, diving to push the ball clear.
Town started to come into the game around the 10-minute mark, with Harry Milner winning a corner on the right which was punched clear by Oxborough.
Milner then got to a ball from Shakeel Brown ahead of the keeper, who had raced out of his penalty area, but the winger was forced wide and his low pull-back from the right was cleared.
Brown then won a free kick on the right and his low ball from it found Brook Dennis, who did well to hold it up before a return cross from Brown was punched away.
A foul by Aaron Braithwaite gave the hosts a free kick inside the Town half, although Charley Strouther’s delivery from the left was cleared, as was another free kick, given for a foul by Milner.
Scunthorpe striker Harrison Poulter escaped a yellow card after his late challenge brought Aaron Braithwaite down, then the home side were forced into the first substitution on 26 minutes as Harry Elliott-Bell went off with an injury, to be replaced by Cunningham.
A Brown corner was headed away and a cross from Milner was also dealt with, before Boyd set off on a promising run down the left but saw his low cross cleared.
Town were looking the more likely to break the deadlock but Sellars-Fleming won a corner for the hosts nine minutes before the interval and from it, Cunningham had his first opportunity when the ball from the flag was headed back across goal, only for him to send it over the bar.
Strouther shot straight at Dennis three minutes later, before good defending by Henry Moore forced Sellars-Fleming wide and ensured he could only send a weak shot through to the keeper.
That meant it remained goalless at half-time and the Young Mariners started the second half well as they searched for an opening goal.
A foul on Milner level with the 18-yard line brought a free kick on the left and Brown’s ball towards the far post was just missed by Alex Markham but it did take a deflection for a corner. Boyd’s delivery from the flag was headed on by Markham but it was then cleared for a throw-in.
Soon afterwards, Tom Zerboni won a corner on the left but Brown’s ball was pushed away by the keeper.
Another corner came on 54 minutes after Boyd did well to chase the ball down on the left and it proved to be the start of a spell of pressure as a Moore header was deflected behind. Brown’s flag-kick led to a third in quick succession as another header was deflected out but this time, Moore’s header was off-target.
Brown found Boyd on 56 minutes as Town continued to attack but again, the winger’s low ball from the left was cleared.
Another Grimsby corner was punched away from goal soon afterwards but the ball was worked back to Brown and his cross was cleared.
Boyd created a chance for himself as he ran through the middle just after the hour mark, although he lifted his shot over the bar from 20 yards.
Scunthorpe sent Charlie Burden-Whittleton on in place of Lucas Dawson on 63 minutes and moments later, they were ahead. The substitute took a free kick from the right which was cleared by Will Hodgson but the ball was worked back into the box and CUNNINGHAM got to it first to prod it past Dec Dennis and into the bottom-right corner of the net.
Town had been on top since half-time but now found themselves behind and they responded to the goal by sending Cameron Gardner on in place of Brook Dennis up front.
Gardner had the next chance when he got on the end of a long kick from Dec Dennis but the substitute was unable to make it count as his first-time shot went wide of the near post.
Gardner was involved again when he worked his way into the box on 71 minutes but his low ball was cleared, then a Scunthorpe free kick was dealt with by the Town defence.
The home side won a corner on the right after a shot by Burden-Whittleton was blocked by Zerboni, but Moore was in the right place to head the delivery from the flag away from danger.
At the other end, a cross from Harry Thorpe on the right was headed on by Gardner but only to keeper Oxborough.
Charlie Clements replaced Boyd, before Billy Bradley came on for Hodgson as Town kept searching for an equaliser.
But they were still struggling to call Oxborough into serious action, as a cross from Gardner was cleared and another one was caught by the keeper after a good long ball from Moore had found Gardner.
Finley Fletcher came on in place of Milner with four minutes to go and the visitors kept pushing forward as the game moved into stoppage time.
A foul on Brown on the halfway line brought an opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone but the free kick was headed clear.
The late pressure continued with a corner on the right but Gardner’s ball from the flag was dealt with, as was a free kick from Brown after Gardner was fouled.
More opportunities were to come for Town, with a free kick given for a foul on Bradley, 30 yards out, although Brown’s chip was headed away and after the hosts completed the clearance, Markham was booked for a frustrated foul.
Scunthorpe’s defence continued to hold firm as the Young Mariners struggled to find a way through and when a cross from Zerboni drifted out for a goal kick six minutes into added time, the final whistle brought a hard-fought encounter to its conclusion.
Town are next in Youth Alliance league action on Saturday, when they travel to Doncaster Rovers.