Marine 5-5 Buxton
A Mitch in time adds to previous nine at MTA...
A 90th minute Danny Mitchley strike earned Marine a point in an incredible encounter with Buxton on the final day of the EvoStik Premier Division campaign at the Marine Travel Arena. Manager Tommy Lawson made two changes to the starting eleven from Easter Monday's win at Skelmersdale United, Luke Wall and James Foley replacing Florian Da Silva and the injured Kenny Strickland.
The relatively quiet opening exchanges in bright and breezy Crosby gave little indication of the goal-fest that was to follow, with the visiting Bucks noticeably “up for” the contest despite having narrowly missed out on a play-off spot.
Indeed the Derbyshire side held the edge in possession and territory in the first half and took a two-goal lead. On 17 minutes Grayson's shot from 20 yards was deflected a yard wide of Paul Phillips' right-hand post, but from the resultant corner to the near-post ex-Frickley midfielder Hinsley arrived to glance a header home.
The Bucks extended their advantage just before the half-hour mark as a long diagonal ball was latched onto by the lively Grayson, the Marine rearguard proving unable to shut that particular door as the Blues' striker twisted and turned before delivering a pinpoint cross for the onrushing McGee to bundle past Phillips from close range.
The Whites sought to respond and Matty Hamilton slipped Mitchley into the box but the home skipper's shot was blocked at source by ex-Mariner Bembo-Leta.
Taylor then saw his well-struck shot fly high and wide from 25 yards for Buxton, before the Whites brought themselves back into the game with a goal on the stroke of half-time. Jamie Menagh's trickery afforded him the space to curl and effort from the corner of the penalty area which deceived banana-bedecked custodian Budtz, the ball rebounding off the upright across the face of goal where Hamilton was on hand to finish from close range for his third goal in as many games.
In the last action of the half, Buxton skipper Young headed over from a corner as Peter Wylie challenged, as the Blues held the advantage at the break.
Any spectators returning late from their half-time break would soon be cursing their luck, as three goals arrived in just four minutes at the start of the second period. It was Buxton who seemed to take the wind out of the Mariners' sails as they restored their two-goal cushion on 47 minutes, Grayson's initial shot being blocked but falling kindly for right-back Williams to drill home from 12 yards.
However Tommy Lawson's troops hit back two minutes later as a ball played in from the right fell to Menagh just inside the area and the ex-Chester winger lashed a right-footed shot past Budtz into the bottom corner of the Rossett rigging.
The Mariners levelled matters on 51 minutes, Mitchley being played into the area but having his shot parried by Budtz, however James Foley collected the rebound and took a touch past a defender before firing into the College Road net from 15 yards.
The see-sawing contest was now in full flow and the seventh goal of the afternoon arrived just before the hour mark. A spell of pressure from the visitors saw Phillips brilliantly deny Taylor with a fine one-handed save, but the subsequent corner was sent over from the Bucks' left from which Young rose highest to send a downward header into the bottom corner of Phillips' net.
Dean Shacklock and Florian Da Silva were introduced to the action as the Whites sought to level once more, and they did just that on 74 minutes. A free-kick on the left 35 yards out saw Menagh's audacious attempt almost catch Budtz off-guard, the 'keeper recovering his position to palm behind for a corner. Menagh's delivery to the far post reached James Short whose attempted header back across goal was deflected narrowly over the bar by a blue-shirted defender, but the resultant quadrant-kick was whipped in by Menagh to the near-post for Shacklock to time his run to perfection and glance a header home to open his account for the Mariners.
Marine almost took the lead for the first time in the game soon afterwards as Menagh released Shacklock, the diminutive dasher lifting the ball over a defender's head for the onrushing Mitchley whose attempt on goal lacked the power or direction to beat Budtz as Bembo-Leta challenged.
The Bucks responded to this let-off in clinical fashion, as a cross from their left-flank allowed a shot to be fired in on goal which proved too hot for Phillips to handle, Buxton substitute Walker perfectly-placed to finish from 12 yards to edge his side into a 5-4 lead.
With five minutes remaining the impressive Grayson almost sealed victory for the Bucks with a goal to cap his fine overall performance. Grayson curled a free-kick over the Marine wall and although the ball seemed destined for the bottom corner Phillips dived full-length to clutch the spheroid securely and keep the Whites in the game.
Time was running out for the Mariners to take something from a topsy-turvy encounter, but they restored parity for a third time in the dying embers with a goal of real quality. Da Silva and Shacklock both showed exquisite skill on the right to enable a low ball across the box to find that man Mitchley, the Mariners' leading scorer grabbing his 26th of the season as he turned on the proverbial sixpence to fire left-footed past Budtz from 10 yards to the delight of the healthy final day crowd at the MTA.
Incredibly, the Whites almost won it in added time as Da Silva sought to become the 11th different name on the scoresheet. The French flyer embarked on a mazy run which saw him evade a couple of challenges before skirting long the edge of the box and firing left-footed towards goal, the ball rolling just a couple of feet the wrong side of Budtz's left-hand upright.
Time elapsed to bring an incredible contest to an end with the Mariners showing great character to take a point against a very useful Buxton outfit, which augurs well for an improvement next term on this season's 18th placed finish.
Marine: Paul Phillips, Kisimba Kisimba, James Short, Adam Hughes (Paul Foy 42), Peter Wylie, Michael Brewster, Jamie Menagh, James Foley, Danny Mitchley (c), Matty Hamilton (Dean Shacklock 65), Luke Wall (Florian Da Silva 62).
Unused subs: Alfons Fosu-Mensah, Liam Hollett. Cautions: none.
Buxton: Jan Budtz, Matty Williams, Joel Bembo-Leta, Luke Hinsley (Nicky Walker 46), Joe Maguire (Danny Burns 48), Greg Young (c), Alastair Taylor (Jamie Jackson 80), Brad Abbott, Bradley Grayson, Joe McGee, Niall Doran.
Unused subs: Ricky Ravenhill. Cautions: Taylor, Burns, Young.
Goals: Marine; Hamilton (45), Menagh (49), Foley (51), Shacklock (74), Mitchley (90)
Buxton; Hinsley (17), McGee (29), Williams (47), Young (59), Walker (79)
Referee: Mr Thomas Parsons
Assistants: Mr David Chisnall and Mr Matthew Archibald