Young Mariners beat Grimsby to qualify for National League Academy Cup semi-finals

Young Mariners beat Grimsby to qualify for National League Academy Cup semi-finals

South Shields are into the semi-final of the National League Academy Cup after a superb victory over Grimsby Town at Blundell Park.

The young Mariners prevailed 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw, with goalkeeper Callum Dobson proving to be the hero after saving two spot-kicks.

Shields were 1-0 behind at the break after a goal on the stroke of half-time from Luis Adlard, but Blair Rossiter’s terrific free-kick drew them level in the 69th minute.

With the tie still deadlocked after 90 minutes, it went straight to penalties and Shields found themselves behind when Olly Cresdee’s well-taken effort was saved.

Grimsby had a chance to win it with their fourth spot-kick but Dobson made a fine save before repeating the effort in sudden death and presenting Nathan Kidd with an opportunity to send the Mariners through, which he took.

Andy Inness, Shields’ lead 16-19s coach, said: “Did we play great? Probably not.

“Did we grind it out and show some real grit, determination and togetherness? Yes, definitely.

“There was a real outstanding moment of quality from Blair Rossiter, whose free-kick got us level within the 90 minutes, and then we got the job done on penalties.

“Callum Dobson deserves a massive pat on the back because he had the chance to make a hero of himself and took it.

“Even their manager said after the game that he thought we were the better side over the 90 minutes, which I agreed with, but we weren’t at our free-flowing best and didn’t play as well as we’re capable of, so to win despite that is a great effort from the lads.”

This is the latest milestone moment for the Academy, ranking alongside deep runs in the FA Youth Cup and several other national cup competitions since it was formed in 2017.

Inness added: “It is a brilliant achievement from the lads, and credit to them.

“We’ve been battling quite hard to get into the Academy league above, and the Youth Alliance allowed us into this cup competition with teams from that league.

“The players are showing they’re more than capable of mixing it at that level.

“This time we had to dig in and grind it out, and that’s a great experience for them.

“It’s massive for the lads, and it’s something they will be able to look back on in the future and remember fondly.”

The experience of playing at Blundell Park, which has a capacity of over 9,000, was also cherished by the young Mariners.

Inness said: “The whole day was great for them.

“The lads were buzzing to travel on the team coach and then I don’t think they quite realised how much of a proper football stadium it was until they got there, and it was good to see them taking it in.

“It’s a proper Football League ground – although Grimsby are in the National League at the moment – and holds 9,000 people.

“It was a brilliant experience for them and the pleasing thing for me was that they didn’t freeze in that environment.

“At times they’ve struggled in the FA Youth Cup in home games with a big crowd there, but this time they didn’t freeze under that pressure.

“They dug in and played well at times, battled at times and rode their luck at times.

“They did what they needed to do to get through the tie.”

Shields now await the draw for the semi-finals, where their opponents will be Woking, FC Halifax Town, Chesterfield or Eastleigh.