Youth cup run terminates at Crewe

Cod Almighty | Article

by Mike Worden

27 October 2021

There was no disgrace to Grimsby under-18s in getting knocked out of the FA Youth Cup by an impressive Crewe Alexandra side. 

FA Youth Cup (1st round): Crewe Alexandra 3 Grimsby Town 0

The young Mariners qualified for the first round of the FA Youth Cup by beating Chester, but this visit to Cheshire proved to be a far tougher test.

Crewe had made it free entry for this game and 411 spectators spread themselves out in the huge main stand. With little crowd noise the platform announcements from the station immediately behind one of the goals were audible. It was refreshing to watch a game where the shirt numbers corresponded to positions on the pitch.

Crewe were very well organised and Town were up against it from the kick off. Crewe pushed both their full backs high, pulling Grimsby's back four out of a compact shape and that created space for the Crewe strikers to play in between them. With Edwin Essel up front on his own and well-marshalled, when Town did get hold of the ball their options were limited.

Crewe's early pressure forced the Town defence into some crucial blocks and a goal-line clearance. Keeper Tom Jacobs made a couple of important saves before the home side got the breakthrough on 27 minutes. Williams ran through the midfield, skipped a number of challenges, and slotted the ball into the path of Connor Salisbury who beat Jacobs with a shot into the corner.

Town’s best opportunity of the half came after a well-worked period of possession found midfielder Ethan Scott on the edge of the box, but his snatched shot flew over the bar.

Crewe centre forward Salisbury was impressive all night and on the stroke of half time he got his second. Chasing a ball which left back Tomasso Zerbont failed to clear, Salisbury won possession and smashed the ball to the left of Jacobs. The Town keeper had no chance but it was an opportunity gifted for Salisbury. Neil Woods was clearly not happy and it was no surprise that he made a change in the defensive line-up for the second half.

A first for me at half time: listening to commentary from Wealdstone and then meeting Jason Stockwood in the queue at the tea bar. I don't know if any other Town fans were there but it felt somewhat surreal that it may have been just me and the club chair supporting the team. [When I went to another youth game at Crewe a couple of years ago, it was me and the Grimsby coach driver - Ed]

Town looked more solid in the second half with ex-Healing School pupil Aaron Braithwaite controlling centre midfield but still their options were limited and Tom Booth in the Crewe goal was rarely tested. Going two up front gave the Mariners more strength in the final third than in the first half and a header from Jamie Bramwell bounced off the crossbar, but that was the closest Town got to scoring.

Crewe continued to move the ball around comfortably and used the width of the Gresty Road pitch much more effectively than the Mariners. On 63 minutes Crewe got their third when Joel Tabinor turned cleverly on the edge of the box and shot into the left hand corner of the goal.

The tie effectively over, Woods made more changes to shake up the side and salvage some pride. Braithwaite had shone in the second half but his tiredness was beginning to show and he was booked for a foul. Sims also picked up a booking for holding after a high forward ball as Salisbury was ready to pull away from the Town defender like a Pendolino leaving Crewe station.

The young Mariners kept battling for a late goal but with Crewe dropping deeper to defend the lead, it wasn't to be.

I drove away from Crewe listening to the commentary of the first team trying to get the equaliser. Sadly in Middlesex, as in Cheshire, it was not the Mariner's night.

Town line up

1 Jacobs
2 Markham
3 Zerbont
4 Scott
5 Sims
6 Bramwell
7 Milner
8 Braithwaite
9 Essel
10 Tomlinson
11 Boyd

12 Wilkinson
13 Dennis
14 Stratton
15 Clements
16 Thorpe

Man of the match - Braithwaite