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Youths Crash Out
By: Stephen Bateman
Grimsby Town's FA Youth Cup dreams lay in tatters today, as the Mariners crashed out at the first hurdle against a strong Portsmouth side. Two goals in as many minutes broke the back of a spirited Grimsby Town team who must now regroup for Saturday's trip to Hartlepool.
The Town defence was placed under pressure from the start, forcing a string of fine saves from Town goalkeeper Michael Butterwood and a goal-line clearance from young professional Iain Ward. The deadlock was finally broken on 23 minutes, however, as Gordon Chin, Pompey's Canadian Under-17 international played in regular senior first-teamer Gary O'Neill with a deft back-heel. After some good work down the left flank, O'Neill slipped the ball across to Rowan Vine, who fired home from two yards out. Just sixty seconds later, the Mariners found themselves facing a two-goal deficit as Vine broke through the Town defence before delightfully clipping the ball over an advancing Butterwood. In spite of switching to a more aggressive 3-4-3 formation, Ian Knight's youngsters were unable to create enough chances to pose a serious threat to a Portsmouth side that was by now fully in control of the match. The opening minutes of the second-half saw the talented O'Neill rattle the Town crossbar with a blistering free-kick after Ward had clattered into Vine on the edge of the Grimsby area. After more fine saves from Butterwood, Grimsby's best chance of the game arrived in the 71st minute when Russell White skipped through three bewildered Pompey defenders before playing a good ball to Luke Clasper, who was unlucky to be denied by keeper Craig Bradshaw. In spite of the result, a depleted Grimsby side can hold their heads up high after competing with a much stronger side for the entire ninety minutes. Special praise should go to Butterwood in the Town goal who, along with the impressive Iain Ward and Chris Gray, kept the Mariners in the game after conceding the early goals. Manager Ian Knight was understandably disappointed after the match, saying "The game was over really after they scored their second goal. I think there was a lack of concentration for both goals and the boys have paid dearly for their mistakes. "For this level of football this is a big competition. The pace, the endeavour and the commitment were always going to be high but unfortunately we couldn't match Portsmouth's pace, thought and movement."
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