It wasn’t to be for Rovers U18s on the Lincolnshire coast as they fell to defeat in their final game of the regular EFL Youth Alliance League season with ten men.
Faris Khan got on the scoresheet for the visitors but an earlier controversial red card for Jak Whiting, whilst the game was still goalless, saw the Mariners take advantage and secure the three points.
The result sees Frank Sinclair’s side finish in fourth place at the end of the regular season.
The hosts got play underway on the east coast and the end-to-end nature of the first three minutes set the tone for the whole game, but Rovers were called into defence first as Whiting cleared a looping ball off the goal-line.
Just minutes later, at the other end, space opened up outside the box for Jack Raper to take a shot on but the ‘keeper was stood in the way to prevent the midfielder of two goals in as many games.
Over the next half an hour, a great battle in the middle of the park opened up with both teams looking to assert dominance as Grimsby saw an effort put well over the bar, and then another saved brilliantly by Jacob Bryant.
The last chance of the half however, fell the way of Rovers.
A magnificent sprayed ball from deep midfield found Harry Wood on the left and the first touch was just as good as the pass, as he ran at his man, cut inside and took the shot on, but it was straight at the ‘keeper to bring the first half to a goalless end.
Once the second half had started, the opening ten minutes didn’t go to plan for Frank Sinclair’s side with Jack Raper entering the referee’s book, only for worse to come.
On the 53rd minute, the referee controversially pulled play back for a foul and deemed an earlier challenge and enough to present skipper Whiting with two yellows and, in turn, reduced the visitors to ten men.
From the very next set-piece, Grimsby put the ball in the box for Bryant to make a superb, point-blank double save but it ricocheted its way into the back of the net to break the deadlock.
In response to the goal, Alex Fletcher was brought on in place of Harry Wood but, without an 11th man, the Mariners took advantage.
On the 63rd minute, the hosts stretched the Rovers back line to see a man on the left afforded of a large amount of space, and time, as he drilled the ball across goal and in to go two goals ahead.
Low on numbers, Sinclair made his final change after that, replacing Will Green with Tom Parkinson and it was the change that made a difference up front.
With 13 minutes to play, Parkinson stepped up to a corner, delivered an inch-perfect ball into the centre of the box and Khan jumped highest to nod the it into the top left corner and cut the deficit in half.
However, Rovers’ hopes of yet another comeback were quickly dashed.
Grimsby counter-attacked, stretched the depleted back line again and fired across goal from the left to imprint a carbon copy of the second finish, and put daylight between the two sides once again with 10 to go.
Rovers then tried to find another route back into the game only to see the hosts put the result beyond all reasonable doubt with the last attack of the game.
In the 95th, and final, minute the Mariners attacked down the right and crossed in a dangerous ball for an attacker to leap forward and head into the far, top-left corner for a Grimsby fourth.