Marine 3-1 Ashton United
Mariners clip Robins' wings at MTA...
Danny Mitchley's double and a Kenny Strickland strike gave Marine a much-needed and deserved win to move up to 18th in the EvoStik Premier Division and inch further away from the relegation zone. Manager Tommy Lawson made four changes from the side which lost against Workington in midweek, James Short made a welcome return from injury whilst Alfons Fosu-Mensah started alongside Mitchley in attack. In addition Lawson handed debuts to Jack Phillips and Florian Da Silva on the left and right side of midfield, respectively.
An open contest saw the Mariners almost make the early breakthrough in the third minute as Jack Phillips did well on the left, his low cross finding Fosu-Mensah who turned his marker but saw his shot from 12 yards crash against the upright and away from goal.
Ashton created their first sight of goal in the 10th minute as the ball was slipped through to Dyche on the right-hand side of the box, his shot being deflected by the recovering Short and well held by ex-Ashton stalwart Paul Phillips at his near post.
The Mariners came close once more on the quarter-hour mark as James Foley surged into the right-side of the area, his low drive across the area being turned across goal at the back post by Phillips to Fosu-Mensah whose low first-time shot was somehow blocked by visiting custodian Pilling's legs.
The early ebb and flow continued as an Ashton free-kick was clipped into the box, Phillips appearing to be fouled as he attempted to punch clear but with nothing given Dyche was unable to direct his header on target as the ball dropped a couple of yards wide of the College Road rigging.
United were then twice denied in quick succession by their former player-manager as firstly a ball clipped over the top allowed Crowther to race through to the edge of the box, the striker waiting for the bouncing ball to come on down but his attempted volley was sliced tamely into the waiting gloves of Phillips.
A neat interchange then saw Dyche's clever back-heel played perfectly into Chadwick's path, the striker attempting to take the ball past Phillips who denied the Ashton man with a well-timed block with his legs, enabling him to gather.
The Mariners countered and skipper Mitchley began to find his range as he fired a yard wide from 25 yards, before the Whites took the lead in the 33rd minute. A ball played down the right allowed Strickland to burst into the box and thump a low shot into the opposite corner of the net for a fine finish.
Crowther then fired a free-kick around the Marine wall but the well-positioned Phillips was able to hold securely low to his left, and the Crosby side added a vital second goal just before the break. A deep cross from the right from Da Silva saw ex-Tranmere 'keeper Pilling only palm the ball as far as Mitchley who took a touch onto his left-foot before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner of the Crosender Road net.
The second period began with the Mariners looking confident and beginning to play the attractive football which has been in scarce supply at the MTA during this campaign. With Phillips and Da Silva on either wing causing the United full-backs numerous problems it was no surprise when in the 58th minute Ashton left-back Maiese was given his second caution by referee Barlow for tripping Da Silva in full flight just outside the box.
The resulting free-kick came to nought, but Da Silva continued to torment the visiting rearguard with Crowther clumsily felling the ex-Stalybridge flyer near the by-line. Da Silva's free-kick reached the head of Fosu-Mensah who couldn't keep his header down under strong pressure from a defender.
However the big striker was instrumental in the Mariners' third goal midway through the half as he raced into the area and although Pilling parried his initial effort Fosu-Mensah showed great awareness to coolly slide the rebound across the box for Mitchley to fire home, albeit with a heavy deflection which defeated the last defender as the ball crept over the line.
With victory now assured the only disappointing note of the afternoon's proceedings for Lawson's men saw both Hughes and Phillips leave the pitch with injuries. Dyche's sharp turn on the edge of the box presented a shooting opportunity for the Robins' striker but custodian Phillips clutched securely once more.
With minutes remaining substitute Matty Hamilton reached the by-line before playing the ball back to Fosu-Mensah on the edge of the box, the luckless ex-Hednesford striker firing against the post for a second time with the ball rebounding to safety from an Ashton perspective.
The visitors managed to grab a consolation for their troubles as the game entered added time, substitute Knight being tripped just inside the corner of the box and Dyche fired high into the corner of the net to give Phillips no chance from the spot.
For the Mariners an impressive display will breed confidence in their new-look squad as they seek to pull away from the danger zone with nine games remaining, and having completed the “treble” over Ashton this season Tommy Lawson's men will be aiming to produce a similar level of performance in those upcoming fixtures.
Marine: Paul Phillips, Kisimba Kisimba, James Short, Peter Wylie, Adam Hughes (Eddie Toner 52), Florian Da Silva (Callum Mahoney 86), James Foley, Kenny Strickland, Danny Mitchley (c), Alfons Fosu-Mensah, Jack Phillips (Matthew Hamilton 77).
Unused subs: Paul Foy, Stephen Wainwright. Cautions: none
Ashton United: Luke Pilling, Dominic Smalley, Domenico Maiese, Max Cartwright, Simon Woodford, Mark Lees, Josh Stachini, Benito Lowe (Lee Knight 46), Matthew Chadwick (Charlie Duke 62), Jack Dyche, Ryan Crowther (Stephen Mason 78).
Unused subs: Jody Banim, Will Haining. Cautions: Maiese. Sent Off: Maiese.
Goals: Marine; Strickland (33), Mitchley (44, 68)
Ashton United; Dyche (pen 90)
Referee: Mr Michael Barlow
Assistants: Mr Nigel Anderson and Mr Abid Hussain