Skelmersdale United 0-3 Marine
Three-sy does it again for Mariners...
Marine's final away game of the 2016/17 campaign saw them produce a professional performance against relegated Skelmersdale United. For the game against his former club Marine Manager Tommy Lawson made just one change to the eleven which started in the win over Hednesford Town, as Matty Hamilton replaced Alfons Fosu-Mensah.
On a pleasant afternoon at the Uretek Stadium the yellow-shirted Mariners were quickly into their stride as they picked up where they left off against Hednesford, striking in just the 3rd minute as they gave their hosts an early dose of the Blues. After Skelmersdale had conceded possession cheaply in midfield the ball was slipped through for Danny Mitchley to advance on goal, dead-eye Dan notching against his former club as he fired unerringly from 18 yards into the top corner of statuesque custodian Hilton's net.
The early pressure on the home goal continued apace as Matty Hamilton proved too strong for United skipper Mooney, the young striker progressing into the box before sending a low left-footed shot narrowly past the far post.
Not for the first time in the afternoon Florian Da Silva's pace forced the opposition into stopping him by foul means, Blues' left-back Grogan becoming the first but certainly not last home player to have his name taken by referee Mulhall for felling the French flyer.
Skelmersdale slowly began to threaten and their stand-out performer Howarth embarked on a mazy run, culminating in a shot from outside the box which flew high and wide of target.
In their next attack the Lancastrians played a low ball across the Marine area which was half-cleared by Kisimba Kisimba, Howarth's shot from the 'd' this time on target but securely held by the well-positioned Paul Phillips.
Midway through the opening period an uncharacteristic error from James Short allowed Blackburn Rovers loanee Howarth to burst into the box but Phillips raced off his line to make a brave block at close quarters and the ball was cleared to safety.
Despite United enjoying their best spell of the game, the Mariners doubled their advantage in the 36th minute. Jamie Menagh laid the ball back for Short to send over a telling cross from the left touchline and the unmarked Hamilton rose to plant a header just inside Hilton's right-hand post to leave Hilton rooted to the spot once more as the Yellows assumed full control at the break.
To their credit Skelmersdale began the second half in spirited fashion and Allen's well-struck shot from 25 yards cleared the crossbar by only a yard or so. The lively Burey then sent a first-time effort comfortably wide of goal from the right-hand corner of the box as Alan Rogers' side sought a way back into the game.
The home side utilised their only available substitute on 55 minutes, but Da Silva almost added Marine's third goal from Hamilton's flick-on, only being denied by a sharp parry from Hilton at his near post.
Skelmersdale were awarded a gilt-edged chance to halve their deficit on 64 minutes as a ball fired across the Marine box from the by-line was deemed to have struck a defender's hand, referee Mulhall pointing to the spot. Steve Irwin stepped up but there was to be a sting in the tail for the United midfielder, Phillips guessing correctly to smother Irwin's weak effort before turning to salute his learned “fan-club” behind the rigging.
The let-off provided just the spur the Crosby club needed and they capitalised almost immediately, surging forward to all but seal victory. The impressive Da Silva chased down a back-pass and blocked Hilton's attempted clearance, the loose ball falling kindly for Mitchley to side-step the last defender and finish from ten yards, the ex-Blackpool hotshot grabbing his fourth in three games in the process.
The goal seemed to finally break the hearts of the homesters and Mitchley almost added a fourth two minutes later but United right-back Jeffries produced a well-timed challenge to block Mitchley's shot at source.
The flashpoint of the game arrived with fifteen minutes remaining as neat play in midfield from Marine induced a reckless, late, shin-high lunge from Mooney on Michael Brewster. The challenge itself wasn't fit for a Sunday morning let alone a Monday afternoon and provoked a reaction from players on both sides. Once the dust had settled, home skipper Mooney was dismissed for the foul to leave his side in the lurch for the closing stages, with Irwin and Hughes being cautioned for their part in the ensuing melee.
Urged on by a tremendous away following of 150+ in the official attendance of 403, the Yellows looked to inflict further punishment on their hosts in the final ten minutes and substitute Dean Shacklock fed Hamilton who saw his shot tipped over the bar by Hilton.
Again to their credit United came close to scoring a consolation as the game reached its conclusion, the hapless Irwin firstly firing straight at Phillips from just outside the box, before the same player's header from a right-wing cross glanced off the top of Phillips' crossbar and behind to sum up proceedings for the Blues.
For the Mariners, successive 3-0 victories provide a measure of reward for the faithful towards the end of a somewhat turbulent campaign.
Marine's final fixture of the season takes place next Saturday at the Marine Travel Arena with Buxton the visitors, kick-off is at 3pm.
Marine: Paul Phillips, Kisimba Kisimba, James Short, Adam Hughes, Peter Wylie, Michael Brewster, Florian Da Silva (Dean Shacklock 66), Kenny Strickland (James Foley 52), Danny Mitchley (c), Matty Hamilton, Jamie Menagh (Luke Wall 66).
Unused subs: Alfons Fosu-Mensah, Paul Foy. Cautions: Hughes.
Skelmersdale United: Joe Hilton, Jason Jeffries, Callum Grogan, Josh Dobie, Michael Vaughan-Muscat, Phil Mooney (c), Remirez Howarth, Steve Irwin, Bevan Burey, Steven Gillespie, Max Allen (Seb Bradshaw 55).
Unused subs: none. Cautions: Grogan, Allen, Irwin, Gillespie. Sent Off: Mooney.
Goals: Marine; Mitchley (3, 65), Hamilton (36).
Referee: Mr Sam Mulhall
Assistants: Mr Jonathan Broadhurst and Mr Karl Buckley