Marine 3-2 Corby Town
Mariners show mettle to overcome Steelmen at MTA...
A dramatic late winner from Alfons Fosu-Mensah following Danny Mitchley's double secured a vital three points for Marine against relegation rivals Corby Town at the Marine Travel Arena. Adam Hughes regained fitness to take his place in the heart of the Mariners' defence, whilst Jamie Menagh made his first start since rejoining the club recently.
The Mariners made began brightly and applied pressure to the Northamptonshire side in the opening quarter of an hour. A short corner allowed Menagh to cut in from the right and fire in a low shot from 20 yards but Town custodian Grant held securely.
Another corner-kick for was then delivered by Menagh to the far post, and Tony Davies won his header but the ball sailed high over the bar.
On 12 minutes the Mariners created an even better scoring opportunity as Florian Da Silva did well on the right flank to lay the ball back to Peter Wylie whose low ball into the near post reached Fosu-Mensah. The burly striker tuned sharply 10 yards from goal but fired his right-footed effort a yard or two over the Crosender Road crossbar.
Having survived Crosby side's impressive early spell Corby gradually began to find the form which has seen them move from relegation certainties to a berth just above the drop zone.
Midway through the half the Steelmen should have taken the lead with their first clear sight of goal, as a ball played over the top was collected by Weir-Daley whose cross found fellow ex-Hednesford striker Trainer unmarked eight yards out. However Corby's captain somehow mistimed and misdirected his header and the ball incredibly flew several yards wide of Paul Phillips' right-hand post.
The blue-and-white shirted visitors did manage to break the deadlock on 27 minutes after some neat approach play was initially thwarted by a timely intervention from Hughes. Unfortunately for the Mariners Menagh dwelt and was caught in possession just outside the box by Iaciofano who centred for Trainer to force the ball home from close range as Wylie challenged in vain.
The goal signalled a change in momentum as Corby finished the half strongly in terms of possession but without troubling Phillips unduly, whilst Mitchley's well-struck effort from just outside the box was well fielded by Grant as the half drew to a close with the Mariners trailing.
Tommy Lawson's men were soon back on the front foot early in the second period as Da Silva's trickery earned a free-kick which was whipped into the box by Menagh, Hughes arriving 12 yards out to power a header just the wrong side of Grant's left-hand upright.
The Whites were not to be denied for long however as Fosu-Mensah applied pressure to the last Corby defender and managed to pinch possession, his goalbound shot being blocked smartly by Grant at the edge of his area. The rebound fell straight to Mitchley 30 yards from goal and the Marine skipper applied a sumptuous finish as he clipped the ball over both Grant and his defenders and just underneath the College Road crossbar to the delight of the home faithful.
The visitors sought to restore their advantage and a corner from their left was flicked on dangerously at the near post but headed clear at the far by the diligent Davies. Town midfielder Milnes then tested Phillips with a daisy-cutter from distance but the veteran stopper was able to dive and parry before gathering at the second attempt.
With 20 minutes remaining the homesters took the lead from the penalty spot as Menagh's cross was blocked at close range with the rebound falling to Mitchley who toed the ball past a Corby defender's lunge and was felled a couple of yards inside the box. Referee Kenny was very well-positioned to award the spot-kick and dead-eye Danny sent Grant the wrong way from twelve yards with the minimum of fuss, notching his 22nd goal of another fruitful campaign in the process.
The Mariners now appeared to be in control of proceedings but they were rocked in the 83rd minute having conceded a free-kick 22 yards out. Corby's initial effort struck the white-shirted wall but the ball was prodded back inside the area, Trainer swinging his right-foot from 15 yards and the ball arrowed into the bottom corner to seemingly earn his side a vital point.
However with just two minutes left to play the Mariners' never-say-die attitude, and in particular that of the impressive Fosu-Mensah came to the fore, the Dutch destroyer opening his account for Marine with a goal worthy of winning any game.
A ball over the top sprung the Corby offside trap and Kenny Strickland raced down the left flank before fizzing a low ball across the box for the onrushing James Foley who didn't connect as intended with his sidefooted finish. However the ball reached Fosu-Mensah beyond the far post, ten yards from goal, and the striker provided a moment of real quality as he coolly dinked the ball over Grant and into the rigging to spark jubilant scenes around the MTA.
In added time the Mariners had to survive one final scare as Corby midfielder Bell curled a free-kick over the Marine wall, and although the ball appeared destined for the bottom corner Phillips dived full-length to ensure a crucial victory for his team in their bid to pull away from the relegation places.
The two sides meet again on Saturday (3pm) in the reverse fixture at Steel Park in another vital EvoStik Premier Division clash.
Marine: Paul Phillips, Peter Wylie, James Short, Adam Hughes, Tony Davies, James Foley, Florian Da Silva, Kenny Strickland, Danny Mitchley (c), Alfons Fosu-Mensah, Jamie Menagh (Luke Wall 74).
Unused subs: Kisimba Kisimba, Matthew Hamilton, Michael Brewster, Eddie Toner. Cautions: Fosu-Mensah, Hughes..
Corby Town: Aidan Grant, Conor Kennedy, Courtney Wildin, David Bell, Jamie Anton, Jason Lee, Giuseppe Iaciofano (Jordan Crawford 62), Ben Milnes, Spencer Weir-Daley, Philip Trainer (c), Steven Leslie.
Unused subs: Stefan Moore, Ryan Bell, Michael Ogilvy, Steven Kinniburg. Cautions: none.
Goals: Marine; Mitchley (54, pen 72), Fosu-Mensah (88)
Corby Town; Trainer (27, 83)
Referee: Mr Jon Kenny
Assistants: Mr Simon Richmond and Mr Stuart Sims