Marine 1-2 Shaw Lane
Mariners defeated by Ducks at MTA...
Marine slipped to a narrow home loss as promotion-chasing Shaw Lane secured all three points in the first -ever meeting between the clubs. Manager Tommy Lawson made four changes from the team which had performed so valiantly at Dover in their previous outing as Spencer Myers and on-loan Accrington striker Niall Watson made their debuts, Tony Donaldson was given a starting berth having appeared as a substitute at Dover, and George Lomax deputised for Danny Mitchley in attack.
On a bitterly cold evening in Crosby the Mariners fired the first shot across the bows as John McGrath's effort from distance flew well wide of target following a headed clearance by the visiting defence.
The Barnsley-based outfit then began to assert in a disappointing first-half showing from the Whites, centre-back Skelton's header skimming a couple of yards wide of Martin Fearon's left-hand post from a corner.
The Ducks came even closer to taking the lead as a flicked header reached experienced striker Reeves, the ball sitting up invitingly but the ex-Altrincham man's dipping volley from the 'd' narrowly cleared the College Road crossbar.
However the visitors duly made the breakthrough on 25 minutes as Byrne's low shot from 25 yards proved troublesome for Fearon who was unable to gather, Reeves on hand to prod home a simple chance from the rebound from 8 yards.
Ten minutes later and Byrne tried to repeat the trick, but although this effort was more sweetly-struck Fearon dived low to his left to make a fine stop and push the ball away to safety.
Having been outplayed for the majority of the opening period the Mariners almost hauled themselves level just before the break as the lively McGrath did well to create space on the right, his low cross seeking to give Watson an elementary finish at the far post but a blue-shirted defender stretched to somehow divert the ball over his own crossbar. The subsequent corner came to nought as the Whites trailed at half-time.
The start of the second period saw Lawson's troops firmly on the front foot, James Short making ground on the left to deliver a low cross which caused confusion in the Shaw Lane defence but which they were ultimately able to clear.
A ball over the top the allowed Lomax to steal in behind the Ducks' defence, the striker advancing into the box but his tame left-footed finish allowed visiting custodian Wilczynski to gather with ease.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, this spell of pressure ultimately came to nought and Shaw Lane took their chance at the other end to double their lead. From the right-hand byline a low centre reached ex-Leeds midfielder Norris who took a touch six yards out and found the rigging despite a defender's challenge.
Despite this setback the Mariners continued to press and notched the goal of the game with 20 minutes remaining. A cross from the right was headed clear as far as McGrath who controlled instantly 22 yards from goal before curling an exquisite left-footed finish beyond Wilczynski and into the top corner, McGrath opening his Marine account in brilliant fashion.
Four minutes later and more Marine pressure led to a cross to the back post reaching skipper Phil Baker who headed back across goal. The ball reached substitute George Hassall but the on-loan AFC Fylde striker's header was securely held by Wilczynski on the first bounce.
With ten minutes remaining again found himself with a reasonable scoring opportunity as substitute Peter Wylie's pinpoint cross from the right found Hassall, the youngster's header from 12 yards rolling comfortably wide of target on this occasion.
With a Marine equaliser looking increasing likely, Shaw Lane countered through Byrne with seven minutes remaining with the midfielder heading toward the corner flag at a surprisingly early juncture. Donaldson's ill-timed challenge on Byrne saw referee Barlow dismiss the former Skelmersdale midfielder, the Mariners finding themselves a man short for the second successive game.
Despite this disadvantage the Whites continued to seek a late equaliser and almost found it as the game entered added time. Having forced a corner on the right the quadrant-kick found Baker whose brave header from 12 yards was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Wilczynski, Baker receiving a defender's boot to the face in the process which was somehow not spotted by the arbiter.
Time elapsed as the visitors clung on to secure victory and maintain their promotion push, whilst the much-changed Mariners once again put on a spirited display for no reward.
The Mariners are back in action at the Marine Travel Arena on Saturday afternoon as they entertain Rushall Olympic in their next EvoStik Premier fixture, kick-off at 3pm.
Marine: Martin Fearon, Kenny Strickland, James Short, Adam Hughes (Peter Wylie 65), Phil Baker (c), Spencer Myers, John McGrath, Michael Brewster, George Lomax (Liam Tongue 85), Tony Donaldson, Niall Watson (George Hassall 60).
Unused subs: Liam Tongue, Florian Da Silva, Germano Mendes. Cautions: Myers, Wylie. Sent Off: Donaldson.
Shaw Lane: Eddie Wilczynski, Kieran Lugsden, Ben Gordon, Jake Picton (James Pollard 58), Jake Skelton, Godwin Abadaki, Alexander Byrne (Chib Chilaka 88), Spencer Harris (c), Paul Clayton, Damian Reeves (Ryan Serrant 52), David Norris.
Unused subs: Nicky Walker, Gavin Rothery. Cautions: none.
Goals: Marine; McGrath (69)
Shaw Lane; Reeves (25), Norris (61)
Referee: Mr Michael Barlow
Assistants: Mr Daniel Sims and Mr Keith Martin