Scunthorpe United’s Under-18 side were victorious over local rivals Grimsby Town on Saturday morning in the Youth Alliance League, winning 1-0 at Appleby Frodingham.
Joshua Cunningham’s second half strike proved to be the difference, as United performed valiantly throughout the contest.
Tyrell Sellars-Fleming was the first Scunthorpe player to go close after just three minutes, meeting a Nat Wallace cross from the right, before the Grimsby goalkeeper saved well.
The Iron were forced into an early change in the backline, as Harry Elliott-Bell was forced to be withdrawn after just 26 minutes. Cunningham came on to replace him.
With 35 minutes gone the game was clearly a midfield battle, as neither side could grab a strong foothold in proceedings, with some heavy challenges flying in from both teams.
Charley Strouther did well to burst forward down the left flank, finding Harvey Cribb in the process. The latter however found his shot well saved.
As the second half began it was the visitors who started the brightest with the scores still level, having forced some minor mistakes in Scunthorpe’s backline to win multiple corners, the Iron’s resistance stood tall.
Ben Pike charged through the pitch just before the hour mark, completing a neat one-two with Strouther in the process. The defender attempted to pick out a cross however he was dispossessed at the vital moment.
Town’s number 11 then came forward out wide in an attempt to open the scoring, producing arguably the best chance of the game so far. His shot however was blazed over in the process as the action came alive once more.
Charlie Burden-Whittleton was then introduced for Lucas Dawson and within seconds the Iron were ahead, with the substitute directly involved.
His lofted free kick fell kindly to Cunningham who had not one but two bites at the cherry, before prodding home the game's only goal with just 30 minutes remaining.
Grimsby then mounted serious pressure heading into the final knockings of the encounter, with Town’s number 10 found unmarked in the area, Pike however was on hand to clear the danger.
Finn Abraham was superb in commanding Scunthorpe’s backline late on, winning everything that aerially came his way whilst also vocally seeing United’s academy outfit over the line.
Josh Robertson picked up a late booking as time ticked on, but bar a few tiny set-piece scares in the final knockings, the Iron hung on for a deserved victory.
Following the victory, Professional Development Phase Coach Rob Watson hailed the importance of the victory against a side who have started the campaign in fine fashion.
"It’s a huge boost and to get three points against a very good side was great. They are not top of the league as mugs and they have some excellent players, we knew it would be a difficult game," he began.
"For us, the biggest positives are we got three points and the other huge positive is a clean sheet. Four unbeaten and we have only conceded four goals in two games, that gives us a lot of hope and especially heading into the FA Youth Cup game on November 3.
"I was really pleased with the resilience in the final 10-15 minutes, Grimsby really put it on us like you would in any game and we had to defend the box and we had to look after the ball when it went forward, and try to make it 2-0. We did well to defend and in the end got the result we warranted."
United’s Under-18 side return to action on Tuesday morning, as they face off against Huddersfield Town in the Youth Alliance Cup. Kick-off in that one is scheduled for 11:00am.
IRON: Oxborough; Eliott-Bell (Cunningham, 25), Abraham, Pike; Wallace (Giles, 82), Cribb, Dawson (Burden-Whittleton, 62), Strouther (Larkin, 90), Robertson; Poulter, Sellars-Fleming.