Notts County’s youth team claimed a credible 2-1 win over Grimsby Town to book their progression through the group stages of the Midland Youth Cup at Meadow Lane on Monday evening.
Watched by Keith Curle, Colin West and Chris Kiwomya, as well as Adrian Rawden and Phil Turner from youth team sponsors On-Call Recruitment, the Notts youngsters went into the game knowing that a win would be good enough to secure their progression, having already beaten Mansfield Town in the competition.
Brett Adams named an unchanged starting line-up for the third consecutive match, with Kyle Dixon captaining the side.
Notts enjoyed the best of the early exchanges, with Alex Kenlock and Kameron Campbell combining well down the right and Glodie Bange having the first real chance on goal, unleashing a fierce driven effort from distance that the Grimbsy keeper could only parry before collecting.
There were early warning signs for Notts though, with Grimsby launching an attack of their own on the left, which saw Josh Morrall fire the ball across the face of goal and Brad McGowan seemed to slip as he attempted to clear, but got enough on it to avert the danger and the home side were able to get the ball away.
Notts continued to press and called Harry Ashton in the Grimsby goal into action once more on 10 minutes when he had to rush out of his area to clear a long searching ball up front from McGowan.
However, it was the visitors that made the breakthrough in the game, with Elliott Hodge giving away a freekick midway inside the Notts half for a tug on William Peers. Morrall took the resulting set piece and delivered the ball well for Ben Cuff to fire home.
Notts responded well to going behind though, with Mathew Crust and McGowan causing problems on the line from a corner shortly afterwards, but neither player could get the decisive touch and Grimsby were able to clear.
Kyle Dixon then found himself through one-on-one with the keeper just a minute later, but Ashton did well to get down to his right and save the Notts captain’s low, goalbound effort.
Grimsby weren’t about to sit back and let Notts have all of the play though, with Harry Andrews having to be at full stretch to tip the ball over from a well-weighted Robbie Bryant shot, after Crust had been dispossessed on the edge of the area.
Dixon had two further chances to get Notts back level midway through the half, first seeing another low shot saved by Ashton and then just being caught off balance after another great break down the right saw the ball fizzed across to him by Campbell.
When Morall then brought down Nangle shortly before half hour mark, it fell to Crust to hit a well-struck shot from around 10 yards outside the area, but the Grimbsy wall did its job and stood firm to block and clear.
A further spell of sustained pressure from Notts saw Hodge go close from distance, having controlled well and moved the ball on to his left foot from a Grimsby clearance following another long throw from Campbell.
The last real action of the half again came from a good move down the right by Notts, with Bange collecting the ball and advancing to the byline before drilling the ball across the face of goal but without enough angle to threaten the net and with too much pace for a Notts player to get any kind of touch.
HT: Notts County 0 Grimsby Town 1
Notts could have felt slightly aggrieved to have gone into the break behind after having much the better of the opening period and came out for the second half clearly intent to put things right as quickly as possible.
Having pressed well from the restart, it was three minutes after the break that Campbell took a short corner to Dixon and his ball across the area was deflected into his own net by Cuff, despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts to claim as he fell over the line.
That goal only served to breathe further belief into a Notts side that were very much in the ascendcy, with Kenlock coming close on 56 minutes after a great ball by Hodge.
Grimsby made a double substitution on the hour mark, in a bid to turn the tide of the game once more, with Sam Loughram and Paul Walker coming on to replace Lee Wattam and Caine Winfarrah.
But it did little to quell the attacking threat of Notts, who again went close through a header from Kieran Geldenhuys on 65 mins and a decent effort by Bange a minute later that Ashton did well to save.
Grimsby could have retaken the lead against the run of play on 67 minutes when Walker’s cross was met by Bryant, but his header went just wide of the post.
Malaki Lavelle Moore was then introduced to the action on 73 minutes, replacing Kenlock, with Bange moving out to the wing, but it would be the other wide man, Nangle that put Notts ahead in the game.
Having been fouled by Jack Griffin 30 yards out from goal, Nangle was on hand as the balll came back in from the resulting freekick, which had been cleared to the halfway line, and was allowed to run at the Grimsby defence, advancing far enough to feel that he was in range before firing the ball home past a stricken Ashton in the Grimsby goal.
Andrews had to be alert in the Notts goal a minute later though to prevent the lead being short lived, getting back well to tip over a well weighted Bryant header.
Further efforts from Lavelle Moore, looping a freekick only narrowly wide of the upright, and Campbell, who collected a long ball forwards from Andrews before turning and getting his shot away, showed that Notts weren’t going to rest on a one-goal lead.
But there was another nervy moment four minutes from time, shortly after James Randall had come on to replace the impressive Bange, when Blaize Kerr unleashed a great dipping volley that crashed off the crossbar, much to the relief of a Notts side who had their captain Dixon lying stricken after taking an elbow to the head in the build-up.
Liam Guest came on to replace the injured Dixon with just a minute on the clock, but there was still time for Lavelle Moore to leave his marker on the floor with some clever footwork and try an audacious looping shot that wasn’t far from off target.
That was the last real chance of the game, which Notts ran out deserved winners of in the end, booking their place in the next round of the Midland Youth Cup.
FT: Notts County 2 Grimsby Town 1
Man Of The Match: Romello Nangle
Picture Credit: Andy Stokes