An extremely youthful Iron U18 team were unfortunate to narrowly lose to EFL Youth Alliance League leaders Grimsby Town on Saturday at Brumby Hall.
The average age of the team on Saturday was 15 years and 5 months and for the second successive weekend, it became the youngest team ever fielded at U18s by the Iron.
The only goal of the game came from a ricocheted clearance from a disputed corner - which the (close up) linesman indicated was a goal kick but which was overturned by the (distant) referee.
The Iron's starting line up consisted of 1 U18, 4 U17s, 4 U16s and 2 U15s.
Collins (16 - U17)
Baker (16 - U16)
Hayward (15 - U15)
Gallimore (15 - U16)
Barks (16 - U17)
Lobley (14 - U15)
Chadli (17 - U17) - Boswell 66 mins (15 - U15)
Dawson (15 - U16)
Okafor (17 - U18)
Wilkinson (15 - U16)
Jessop (16 - U17)
Blenkiron (15 - U15)
Rustill (15 - U15)
1st Year Apprentice, Luca Chadli, who was returning from injury was replaced by Alfie Boswell (U15) after 66 minutes.
The substitution meant that the Iron finished the game with the following players on the pitch:
Three U15s, Four U16s, Three U17s and One U18.
Six of the Eleven players were aged 15 or younger!
The Iron’s U18 side fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat against Lincolnshire rivals Grimsby Town in the Youth Alliance League at Brumby Hall on Saturday morning.
Despite tricky conditions in the wind and rain, the Iron put up a good fight against a very strong Grimsby Town side, who started the day at the top of the EFL Youth Alliance League table.
A goal with half-an-hour on the clock proved to be the only difference, as the Mariners did just enough to hold on to the victory, despite the Iron giving it all they could to get back into the game.
Scunthorpe, who started the game with FIVE players aged 15 or younger, got off to a positive start, as they looked to apply pressure to Grimsby early on.
However, the first real chance of the match fell to the Mariners five minutes in when they broke away down the left flank. A shot was fired in, but Tom Collins came to the rescue, as he made a fantastic save to deny the attacker.
Ten minutes later, Grimsby surged forward in attack again, as the striker looked to get beyond the Iron defence. However, as he closed down on goal, he hit his shot wide of the target.
Then, midway through the half, the Iron were awarded a corner when a deflection took the ball behind following a good period of possession in and around the Grimsby Town box. However, the resulting set play was well defended, and Town cleared the danger.
Collins in the United goal was then forced in to action again not long after, when he had to be alert to come off his line and smother the ball at the feet of the attacker.
On the half-hour mark, the Iron had a chance when Harry Jessop whipped in a dangerous free-kick, however, his effort dropped narrowly wide of the goal.
Just seconds later, Grimsby went up the other end and took the lead after the Iron had initially done well to weather the storm.
A disputed corner was delivered into the box and Barks attempted to clear his lines, but when doing so, the ball took a ricochet off the Grimsby Town centre forward and bounced into the back of the net.
After going ahead, Town pushed forward again and moments before the half-time interval, Collins was called upon for the third time in the match, when he tipped a shot around the post spectacularly.
However, there was time for one last opportunity before the end of the half.
Miracle Okafor set off on a quick counter attack and perfectly picked out Jessop on the left-hand side. He then drove down the flank, before sending in a deep cross to the back post where Harry Baker was waiting, but he couldn’t quite connect with the shot and danger was averted.
Half Time: SUFC U18s 0-1 GTFC U18s
Then, as the teams emerged for start of the second half, it was the Iron who carried on in the same way they had finished the first.
Alex Wilkinson laid the ball off for Jessop, who lined up a shot from distance, but his effort whistled just past the far post.
Jessop was then involved again in the Iron’s next attack. He floated a free-kick into the area, and Okafor’s acrobatic overhead kick went inches wide of the target.
Five minutes later, Grimsby forced Collins into another fine save to keep the score line at 0-1.
However, with 20 minutes to go, the Iron began to make their own stamp on the game. Jessop crossed for Okafor, who leapt above his marker to reach the header, but the opposing goalkeeper pulled off a wonder save to claw the ball out of the top corner.
With the clock ticking down, Scunthorpe kept pushing for an equaliser, but they struggled to break down a strong Grimsby Town defence in the last ten minutes, and the Mariners saw out the game to win 1-0.
The Iron’s Under-18’s side are back in action next week against Huddersfield Town.
Updated 12:26 - 11 Mar 2019 by Jeff Daws