Marine 1-1 Frickley Athletic
Mariners quick on the draw once more at MTA...
Marine were held to their 17th draw of the league campaign by old foes Frickley Athletic at the Marine Travel Arena. Manager Sean Hessey made one change to the team which was defeated at Whitby, with Andy Owens being given his first start since his long injury lay-off in place of James Short.
The Mariners began brightly and forced an early corner on their right. Charlie Barnett swung the quadrant-kick towards goal and for the third time this season found the back of the net, the ball on this occasion striking a defender on its way in but the ex-Telford midfielder rightly accepted the plaudits as the Whites took a 5th minute lead.
Andy Owens quickly looked to double the Crosby side's advantage and stung the palms of Malkowski with a venomous effort from the corner of the Frickley area, the Pole in goal just about managing to divert the ball over his own crossbar.
Frickley grew into the game and forced a corner of their own which was delivered from their left, however centre-back Cyrus failed to break Marine hearts as his header sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Athletic found their equaliser in the 16th minute as a high ball played into the box from their right was punched by Matt Cooper as far as Hazel on the edge of the box. The in-form Frickley striker was not closed down quickly enough and controlled before steering a low shot inside the right-hand upright to level matters.
A goalbound Alan Burton shot at the other end was then blocked by a yellow-shirted defender before Lewis Codling collected a loose ball in midfield and drove forward, the diminutive dasher firing a shot from 25 yards which bounced awkwardly in front of Malkowski who gathered at the second attempt.
The Mariners launched a quick counter on the half-hour mark, with Codling again leading the charge down the left flank. The ex-Bala man cut inside before seeing his well-struck shot deflect behind off a Frickley head.
Hessey's troops kept up the pressure on the visitors and Danny Mitchley's ball to the far post reached skipper Andy Nicholas who battled to win his header but couldn't direct it on target.
Five minutes before the interval a ball played down the Marine right saw a Frickley defender slip which allowed Owens to advance toward the box. With Codling in support Owens elected to go it alone but saw his shot deflected behind for a corner which came to nought.
The game between the two longest serving clubs in the EvoStik Premier Division was proving far from a classic, however the second half had its moments with both 'keepers in particular proving their worth.
Owens again threatened for the Mariners down the right flank as he bustled his way past a defender before hitting a rising drive which flew a yard over the visitors' crossbar. Owens was proving a handful for the Athletic rearguard and substitute Short's ball in from the left deflected and bounced over a defender to reach the talismanic striker, Owens turning sharply but scuffing his shot wide of the left-hand post.
The West Yorkshire outfit continued to look useful in attack and a ball slipped through to Hazel on the right of the Marine area saw Cooper race off his line to smother at the striker's feet.
Midway through the half the visitors were awarded a free-kick from which a deflected strike at goal wrong-footed Cooper, but the salmon-shirted stopper reacted to parry low to his left and the Whites scrambled the ball clear.
Frickley skipper Hinsley fired high, wide, and not so handsome from just outside the box before Hazel continued his good work, advancing down the right and crossing for Hinsley whose acrobatic overhead from the penalty spot flew a yard wide of goal.
The Mariners then came close as a free-kick swung into the danger area saw Liam Willis challenge aerially, the ball being inadvertently directed towards goal by an Athletic head but Malkowski reacted brilliantly to palm the ball wide of his left-hand upright.
With ten minutes remaining the lively Hazel latched on to a loose ball and fired a shot which was deflected and seemed destined for the bottom corner, however Cooper once again flung himself to his left to push the ball to safety and keep his side on level terms.
Substitute Warren Bellew had the Mariners' final effort of note as a corner from the right was headed clear of the box the the visiting defence, Bellew racing on to the ball to strike a fierce half-volley from 25 yards which swerved a yard or so wide of Malkowski's right-hand post.
The game fizzled out somewhat as the well-matched teams took their share of the spoils, with the Mariners still seeking the victory which would guarantee their EvoStik Premier Division survival.
Marine stage their final home league fixture of the campaign on Saturday as they entertain Ramsbottom United at the Marine Travel Arena, kick off is at 3:00pm.
Marine: Matt Cooper, Alex Davies (Warren Bellew 74), Andy Nicholas (c), Liam Goulding, Charlie Barnett, Liam Willis, Chris Sharp (James Short 41), Alan Burton, Danny Mitchley, Andy Owens (Chad Whyte 90), Lewis Codling.
Unused subs: Sean Hessey, James Foley. Cautions: Davies.
Frickley Athletic: Sebastian Malkowski, Sam Akeroyd, Steven Jeff (Ross Armstrong 84), Simon Lenighan, John Cyrus, Karl Rose (Louis Bruce 22), Macaulay Parkinson, Bailey Gooda, Jacob Hazel, Luke Hinsley (c), Chris Wood (Tom Davie 55).
Unused subs: Lee Stratford, Jon Hood. Cautions: none.
Goals: Marine; Barnett (5)
Frickley Athletic; Hazel (16)
Referee: Mr Barry Lamb
Assistants: Mr David Holmes and Mr Jordan Bulmer