Marine 2-0 Hednesford Town
Mariners defeat Pitmen at MTA...
Goals in either half from Adam Hughes and Michael Brewster gave Marine a much-needed home win against their Staffordshire opponents in Crosby. Manager Tommy Lawson made four changes to the side defeated by Mickleover Sports in their previous outing, as Peter Wylie, Michael Brewster, Danny Mitchley and new signing Josh Amis replaced Phil Baker, Michael Monaghan, Dominic Reid and the departed Florian Da Silva in the starting eleven.
In heavy underfoot conditions players from both sides struggled to keep their footing on several occasions in the early exchanges, but soon adapted and the first half proved evenly-contested.
Liam Tongue's early speculative effort for the Mariners was well-held by Town custodian Wren, whilst at the other end Butlin's flicked header from a free-kick dropped onto the roof of Martin Fearon's net from 15 yards.
Amis' presence in attack, in addition to Brewster and Liam Tongue solidifying the midfield four on either flank gave the Mariners a better balance than in recent weeks, and they began to threaten the Crosender Road net.
James Short's teasing cross was collected by Wren just ahead of Mitchley, before the returning skipper advanced down the right to centre, Amis' first-time shot being blocked at close quarters to deny the ex-Stockport County striker a debut goal.
The Mariners continued to press and Amis showed awareness to tee-up Short whose well-struck half-volley flew just a yard wide of the diving Wren's right-hand post.
Midway through the half Peter Wylie had to be alert to hook clear after a Hednesford set-piece had received an inadvertant touch off a Marine defender to send the ball towards the bottom corner.
The Whites took the lead four minutes before the break following a foul on Amis tight to the touchline 15 yards from the corner flag on the Marine right. Short's inswinging delivery to the far post caught Wren and his teammates flat-footed, Adam Hughes heading in from close range.
The Pitmen spurned two decent scoring opportunities early in the second half as Mendez-Jones volleyed over from 12 yards following another set-piece, before striker Graham struck nothing but fresh air when well-placed ten yards from goal.
Mitchley and Amis' fledgling partnership proved effective once more to allow the latter a low shot on goal which Wren held securely, before a quick counter in the Whites' next attack saw Tongue's shot from the left-side of the Town area well-held by Wren as Mitchley scented a potential rebound.
The Mariners capitalised on their momentum just before the hour mark as leading scorer Mitchley turned provider, holding off the attentions of Gatter to cross from the left-hand byline and Wren could only palm the ball at full-stretch into Brewster's path, the ex-Southport midfielder calmly sidefooting home from eight yards to give the Mariners a two-goal cushion.
The Pitmen sought an immediate response and winger Lawrie dragged a left-footed shot nearer to the corner flag than goal from 15 yards, before Graham was played into the Marine box but Short produced a well-timed challenge as the Hednesford striker was about to pull the trigger.
The visitors belatedly produced their first attempt on-target fifteen minutes from time as Lawrie's curling free-kick from 25 yards was safely caught by the well-positioned Martin Fearon, before Mitchley almost made it three with a chip over the stranded Wren which sailed just past the angle of post and bar after the visiting defence had failed to clear their lines.
Graham's incisive run with four minutes remaining ended with his daisy-cutter through defenders' legs forcing Fearon into a smart save low to his right, but the Mariners saw out time in relative comfort to record an important and deserved victory which further eases their relegation fears.
The Mariners are back in action on Tuesday evening as they entertain Lancaster City at the MTA, kick off is at 7:45pm.
Marine: Martin Fearon, Peter Wylie, James Short, Adam Hughes, Kenny Strickland, Billy Smart, Michael Brewster (John McGrath 87), Tom Field (James Murray 70), Danny Mitchley (c), Josh Amis (Dominic Reid 67), Liam Tongue.
Unused subs: Phil Baker, Niall Watson. Cautions: Strickland.
Hednesford Town: James Wren, Callum Mendez-Jones, Matt Curley, Ben Bailey, Charlie Gatter, Louis Harris (Reece King 72), Jason Law (Danny Glover 57), Tom Thorley (c), Joey Butlin, Jordan Graham, James Lawrie.
Unused subs: Samuel Oji, James Fitzgibbon, Jose Veiga. Cautions: Graham, Harris, Law, Gatter, Mendez-Jones.
Goals: Marine; Hughes (41), Brewster (59).
Referee: Mr Chris Porter
Assistants: Mr Shaun Taylor and Mr Adam Jones