Marine 0-1 Barwell
Mariners undone by Canaries at MTA...
Barwell captain Michael Townsend's 23rd minute header condemned Marine to a first home defeat of the season at a blustery Marine Travel Arena. For the Mariners, John Shaw replaced James Edgar who was unavailable whilst Dean Shacklock came in for the injured George Hassall.
Germano Mendes had to be alert to block Ryan Seal's first minute shot and the follow-up effort from the same player, but the Mariners then enjoyed the better of the opening twenty minutes.
Dean Shacklock had his shirt pulled by a garishly-garbed opponent, and from the resulting free-kick 30 yards out Vinny Bailey's well-struck low shot bounced awkwardly in front of Barwell 'keeper Castle, however the rebound evaded several white-shirted attackers and the visitors were relieved to clear.
The Mariners continued to press and as the ball was played back to Castle James Murray's persistence almost paid dividends for Tommy Lawson's side, the ball ricocheting toward James Short who stepped inside a defender before firing a low cross-shot which unfortunately beat both the onrushing Billy Smart and the far post as Castle struggled to regain his position.
Two Murray corners from the Marine right caused problems in the Barwell rearguard midway through the half, the first of which fell to John Shaw at the back post whose sliced half-volley comfortably cleared the College Road crossbar. The second was nodded down by Michael Grogan and Smart's aptly-acrobatic overhead-kick was well-struck but equally well held by Castle on the goalline.
Having created the better scoring opportunities in the opening period the Mariners fell behind as a corner played in from the Barwell right saw Townsend escape his marker to beat Mendes to the punch and steer his header inside the far post.
The remainder of the first half saw Barwell content to protect their lead and the early cohesion in the Mariners' play which had proved so effective against Workington in midweek evaporate somewhat, the Whites struggling to create in the attacking third of the pitch.
Indeed Marine almost fell further behind two minutes before the break as a ball over the top allowed Seal to race through and lob the advancing Mendes, however Grogan was superbly positioned to head clear from underneath his own crossbar.
The Whites began the second half brightly and a Bailey free-kick whipped towards the far post failed to receive the final touch that would surely have produced the equaliser.
A fine Peter Wylie driven pass then allowed Danny Mitchley to latch on to the ball in the right-hand channel, the Marine skipper's venomous half-volley clearing the bar by a yard or so.
On 55 minutes the Crosby side came even closer to restoring parity as an incisive attack saw Mitchley pass up a shooting chance to play the ball wider to Murray, the energetic midfielder's low shot unfortunately striking Castle's left-hand post and rolling behind for a goal-kick.
As the game began to open up Barwell spurned a good chance of their own as Story's pull-back from the byline found Seal who was unable to provide the killer touch, Mendes able to hold the striker's scuffed finish.
With the visitors continuing to keep the Mariners at bay in the final quarter of the game the home defence almost conspired to gift the Canaries a second goal, the ball being played back to Mendes whose poor clearance fell straight to Delaney. Mendes partly spared his blushes with a fine parry from Delaney's first effort, but the rebound fell kindly for the Barwell striker who somehow fired wide with the goal gaping.
In the final ten minutes the Mariners produced a few reasonable chances to earn a point from the game, substitutes Michael Brewster and debutant Jordan Harper combining to good effect as the former's pass saw the latter held up by the last defender, the ball breaking to Mitchley who was denied from close range by a fine block from Castle.
Short and Brewster then linked up well on the left flank, the ball being played in towards Smart but the midfielder was unable to find the target as the ball flew past Castle's right-hand post.
With just a minute remaining Brewster again set Short away down the left, Short's cut-back from the byline finding Mitchley whose sidefooted first-time effort sailed high over the Crosender Road crossbar to sum up a rather frustrating afternoon for the Mariners and the home faithful.
Marine: Germano Mendes, John Shaw, Peter Wylie, Adam Hughes (Kenny Strickland 67), Michael Grogan, Billy Smart, James Murray (Michael Brewster 71), Vinny Bailey, Danny Mitchley (c), Dean Shacklock (Jordan Harper 58), James Short.
Unused subs: Kisimba Kisimba, Matthew Hamilton. Cautions: Hughes, Grogan.
Barwell: Liam Castle, Jacob Whitmore, Edward Nisevic, Craig Stanley, Michael Townsend (c), Nigel Julien, Lee Hildreth, Owen Story, Ethan Delaney (Ryan Baldwin 77), Tom Bates, Ryan Seal (Matthew Stenson 71).
Unused subs: Max Smith-Varnam, Cameron Gilchrist, Ryan Robbins. Cautions: Nisevic, Townsend, Story.
Goals: Barwell; Townsend (23)
Referee: Elliot Swallow
Assistants: Alexander Beckett and Lucy-Anne Briggs