Marine 3-1 Stalybridge Celtic
Mariners commence winning streak at MTA...
Marine ended their winless run stretching back to late August as they secured a league double over old foes Stalybridge Celtic at the Marine Travel Arena. Manager Tommy Lawson made three changes to the side defeated at Buxton on Saturday, as Germano Mendes, James Short and new signing Phil Baker replaced the injured triumvirate of Ben Barnes, Adam Hughes and James Murray, whilst another new signing Dominic Marie was named among the substitutes.
The in-form Tamesiders began brightly and threatened twice in the opening exchanges, Short's last-ditch challenge preventing the visitors from taking the lead before Kenny Strickland's brave block from a fierce Wilkinson shot did likewise.
The Mariners gradually found their feet and skipper Danny Mitchley tried his luck from distance but his effort was easily fielded by Celtic custodian Walton.
Midway through the half Walton was tested again as Short advanced and fired a left-footed shot from the corner of the box which the 'keeper could only parry, the rebound falling to Mitchley who found the wrong side of the rigging from a home perspective.
However the Mariners duly broke the deadlock on 24 minutes as Wylie's teasing cross from the right was attacked by James Edgar, the winger smartly planting his header from eight yards beyond Walton and into the roof of the Crosender Road net.
On the half-hour mark Mitchley showed his undoubted class to dummy a Peter Wylie pass, nutmegging the perplexed Stalybridge left-back Honeyball in the process. Mitchley's low cross from the right flank reached the stretching George Lomax at the far post but the young striker was unable to divert the ball goalward as it rolled harmlessly wide.
Celtic midfielder Bailey-Jones' half-volley flew a yard or two over the Mariners' crossbar before striker Wilkinson almost put the Whites to the sword, his sweetly-struck shot from the right-hand side of the area being parried behind by the alert Mendes.
Edgar drifted in from the left touchline but his rather tame finish from just outside the box was securely held by Walton, before Celtic's Roberts saw his shot bounce off Mendes but the Marine stopper recovered to claim at the second attempt.
The Mariners doubled their lead in fine style two minutes before the break as Vinny Bailey's cross from the right picked out Mitchley, dead-eye Danny's sublime left-footed volley from 12 yards giving Walton little chance as the ball rocketed into the top corner.
Unsurprisingly the visitors emerged on the front foot at the start of the second half and Mendes once again made a sharp stop at his near post from Bailey-Jones' drive.
However the Whites spurned the chance to extend their lead as Mitchley latched onto a ball over the top of the Celtic defence, but on this occasion his shot beat Walton and also the right-hand upright as the ball rolled inches wide of goal.
In the 53rd minute that miss looked a potentially costly one as Stalybridge halved their deficit from the penalty spot. A neat pass into the Marine box towards Dickinson saw Celtic's leading scorer tripped by Baker's outstretched leg, Dickinson sending Mendes the wrong way from 12 yards to leave the victory-starved MTA faithful on edge once more.
A poor pass on the hour mark from the Marine rearguard then gifted possession cheaply to Celtic's Brown whose well-struck but rising shot from 25 yards flew a yard or two over the bar.
As the half wore on both managers made changes, Liam Tongue replacing goalscorer Edgar for the Mariners. In addition Dominic Marie, who appeared for the Mariners in pre-season a couple of summers ago, came on for his competitive debut in place of Lomax.
The visitors began to put the Whites under pressure without creating any clear scoring opportunities, as the steadying influence of Baker on his fellow defenders helped to keep Stalybridge at bay.
The Mariners applied the coup de grace six minutes from time as a ball out of defence received the merest flick from Mitchley, Marie showing great anticipation to get in behind the stretched Celtic backline and beat the onrushing Walton to the ball before calmly slotting home from the edge of the area into an unguarded net.
The Whites survived a final scare three minutes later as a poor clearance from Mendes fell straight to Bailey-Jones, however Mendes made amends to deflect the ball behind from the Celtic winger's strike when one-on-one.
Whilst Mendes' distribution could be best described as patchy throughout, his handling was impeccable and Mendes made a number of dominant aerial claims, particularly in the latter stages to thwart the green-shirted visitors.
Lawson's troops saw out time to record a much-needed win and turn the form-book on its head, the side which had claimed ten points from their last four matches being defeated by the team who had gleaned just four points from their previous ten games.
The Mariners entertain Matlock Town on Saturday in their next Evostik Premier Division fixture, kick-off at the Marine Travel Arena is at 3pm.
Marine: Germano Mendes, Peter Wylie, James Short, Phil Baker, Kenny Strickland, Billy Smart, Michael Brewster, Vinny Bailey, Danny Mitchley (c), George Lomax (Dominic Marie 76), James Edgar (Liam Tongue 74).
Unused subs: Adam Freeland, Chris Lomax, Seb Bradshaw. Cautions: Wylie, Baker.
Stalybridge Celtic: Jack Walton, Oliver Crowley (Danny Morton 36), Alex Honeyball, Tom Brown (Sebastien Julien 62), Luke Ashworth (c), Ross Killock, Theo Bailey-Jones, Oliver Roberts, Liam Dickinson, Greg Wilkinson, John Cofie (Jake Charles 56).
Unused subs: Lee Neville, Aidan Chippendale. Cautions: none.
Goals: Marine; Edgar (24), Mitchley (43), Marie (84)
Stalybridge Celtic; Dickinson (pen 53)
Referee: Mr Bob Roberts
Assistants: Mr James Sheppard and Mr Spencer Doherty