Marine 3-0 Ramsbottom United
Three-sy does it as Mariners remain buoyant at MTA...
Marine ensured their EvoStik Premier Division survival with a comfortable win over already-relegated Ramsbottom United in their final home league game of the campaign. Manager Sean Hessey made two changes from the team which drew against Frickley Athletic in midweek as Stephen Wainwright and James Short replaced the injured duo of Alex Davies and Chris Sharp.
In a somewhat tepid first half in sun-kissed Crosby few goalscoring opportunities were created with the Mariners having the lion's share of possession and the doomed Lancastrians repelling the Whites in the early exchanges.
Charlie Barnett's free-kick from just outside the box forced United skipper Grant Shenton into a fine save on 19 minutes, the custodian reacting well to tip Barnett's curling effort over and behind.
Hessey's men went ahead in the 27th minute as leading scorer Danny Mitchley controlled expertly in the box before being tripped by a stray Ramsbottom limb, referee Bristow awarding a penalty. Mitchley hit the bullseye as he dusted himself down to fire his spot-kick straight down the middle past the diving Shenton.
Shenton then held a Lewis Codling drive on the first bounce, before Mitchley's snapshot from the edge of the area flew a yard over the bar as the Mariners held a deserved lead at half-time.
Marine duly doubled their lead on 62 minutes as Mitchley and James Short combined on halfway, the latter's exquisite through-ball finding the marauding Liam Goulding. The young Accrington Stanley loanee advanced on goal before applying a composed finish with the outside of his right boot to open his account for the Mariners in fine style.
The Mariners sought an immediate third goal and Andy Owens released Codling who strode forward with only Shenton to beat, however the United skipper denied Codling with a smart stop.
However midway through the half the Whites secured victory as a cross from the right to the far post found skipper Andy Nicholas whose header across goal again saw Shenton react brilliantly to make a fine one-handed save. Unfortunately for the Rams' 'keeper Mitchley was on hand, reacting more quickly than the two nearest United defenders to force home his 22nd goal of the season from close range.
Alan Burton then pinched possession inside the Marine half before exchanging passes with Short as the latter played Burton through on goal, but once again Shenton prevented further damage with a fine save.
The Mariners continued to put the overworked Rams' rearguard to the sword and a driven Mitchley cross reached Short whose low drive from an acute angle was blocked by the feet of Shenton, Burton volleying the rebound high and wide from 20 yards.
In added time the Rams finally managed an attempt on goal of note as a Wilkins shot from the edge of the box was deflected tamely wide, but time elapsed as the Mariners achieved EvoStik Premier Division safety with two games remaining.
Marine play their penultimate league game of the season on Tuesday evening as they make a first ever visit to Coles Lane to face Sutton Coldfield Town, kick off is at 7:45pm.
Marine: Matt Cooper, Stephen Wainwright, Andy Nicholas (c), Liam Goulding, Charlie Barnett (Jack Hunter 85), Liam Willis, James Short, Alan Burton, Danny Mitchley (James Foley 82), Andy Owens (Chad Whyte 65), Lewis Codling.
Unused subs: Warren Bellew, Sean Hessey. Cautions: none.
Ramsbottom United: Grant Shenton (c), Robbie Bromley, Luke Heron, Dylan Smith, Nia Bayunu, Alex Meaney, Daniel Wilkins, Jake Cliffe, Jamie Rothers (Joe Shaw 35), Aaron Smith (Jack Leaver 69), Dennon Ashcroft (Bevan Burey 56).
Unused subs: Andrew Smart, Zak Hargreaves. Cautions: none.
Goals: Marine; Mitchley (27 pen, 67), Goulding (62)
Referee: Mr Matthew Bristow
Assistants: Mr Mark Reeves and Mr Simon Humphries