Marine 3-0 Hednesford Town
Mariners ensure survival at MTA...
Mariners ensure survival at MTA...
Marine secured their EvoStik Premier Division status for next season with a comprehensive victory against Hednesford Town at the Marine Travel Arena.
At a bright and breezy MTA the visiting Pitmen fashioned the game's first attempt on goal, midfielder Cater's shot being blocked by Adam Hughes with Martin collecting the rebound before firing a rising drive which cleared the bar by only a yard or so.
However the Mariners made the early breakthrough with their first attack of note. Florian Da Silva was brought down on the right flank and Hughes rose to head the subsequent free-kick across the box, skipper Danny Mitchley on the spot to chest the ball down and drill home into the bottom corner from ten yards.
Alfons Fosu-Mensah turned sharply midway through the half, but from just outside the 'd' the ex-Hednesford striker fired his effort high over the bar and into Crosender Road.
Another Marine sortie saw Mitchley finding Hughes on a marauding overlap, the young centre-back striding into the area and sending a low left-footed strike a yard or so past the far post.
The visitors then enjoyed their best spell of the afternoon for the ten minutes before the interval, with Washbourne turning adroitly inside the Marine box but shooting high and wide.
Visiting skipper Danny Glover then looked to unleash a lethal weapon from 25 yards having cut inside onto his left foot but he too blazed his shot high, wide, and not terribly handsome.
Kenny Strickland then curled a free-kick from 25 yards over the Town wall but cyan-clad custodian Ransome held securely, before the Marine midfielder was struck in the face by a shot at the other end as the half ended, Fitzpatrick sending the rebound high into the Main Stand.
The Mariners enjoyed a spell of pressure at the beginning of the second half with Mitchley and Fosu-Mensah showing neat footwork, the former finding the latter who evaded a defender's challenge but saw his daisy-cutter from the edge of the box held well by Ransome low to his left.
French flyer Florian Da Silva then began to torment the Pitmen's rearguard as he showed left-back Danquah a clean pair of heels before cutting the ball back from the byline into Mitchley's path, the Mariners' top marksman being denied by Ransome's outstretched leg.
At the other end Danquah forced Paul Phillips into his only save of note of the afternoon, the veteran stopper adeptly tipping Danquah's well-struck half-volley from distance over his crossbar with the corner amounting to nought for the visitors.
The Whites continued to press in search of a crucial second goal and Mitchley rolled the ball into Da Silva's path but the winger was thwarted by Ransome's lower limb once more.
With a quarter of an hour remaining Mitchley attempted to burst between two Town defenders and appeared to be wrestled to the ground inside the box, however aptly-named arbiter Crusham deemed Mitchley's tumble unworthy of a spot-kick, the referee presumably deeming the challenge to have fallen short of the requisite two falls or a submission.
Manager Tommy Lawson rang the changes in a bid to find the elusive second goal, and his changes certainly had the desired effect with two of his substitutes securing all three points for the Mariners with goals in the final ten minutes.
On 80 minutes on-loan Accrington winger Luke Wall capitalised on a loose ball on the left of the Hednesford area to finish left-footed into the bottom corner despite Ransome getting a glove to the ball.
A speculative but misdirected James Short effort from distance was then trapped by Matty Hamilton whose shot on the turn flew a yard or two wide of the left-hand upright.
However the young striker wasn't to be denied and added his side's third in the final minute with the goal of the game, Hamilton showing a lovely touch to nutmeg the last Town defender before composing himself to beat Ransome with aplomb with a low finish from the edge of the box.
In added time Mitchley sought to add to the beleagured Pitmen's woes with a fourth goal as he stung Ransome's palms with a venomous volley which the 'keeper did well to parry away and prevent further damage.
Time elapsed as Marine reached EvoStik Premier Division safety, a fine display by Lawson's men highlighting the marked improvement in performances and results since his appointment twelve games ago.
Marine make the short trip to Skelmersdale United on Easter Monday (3pm), before concluding the season at the Marine Travel Arena next Saturday (3pm) with a visit from play-off contenders Buxton.
Marine: Paul Phillips, Kisimba Kisimba, James Short, Adam Hughes, Peter Wylie, Michael Brewster (James Foley 64), Florian Da Silva, Kenny Strickland, Danny Mitchley (c), Alfons Fosu-Mensah (Matty Hamilton 70), Jamie Menagh (Luke Wall 58).
Unused subs: Paul Foy, Dean Shacklock. Cautions: Fosu-Mensah, Da Silva.
Hednesford Town: Lloyd Ransome, Lewis Wright, Louis Danquah, Stuart McNaught, Blake Thompson, Joe Ballinger, George Cater (Ryan Nesbitt 63), Jordan Fitzpatrick (Jordan Nadat 72), Danny Glover (c), Desean Martin, George Washbourne (Tony Clarke 46).
Unused subs: Dan Crane, Marvin Robinson. Cautions: Ballinger.
Goals: Marine; Mitchley (7), Wall (80), Hamilton (90).
Referee: Mr Michael Crusham
Assistants: Mr Peter Simm and Mr Bob Richards