Marine 0-4 Stourbridge
Mariners find Stour bridge too far at MTA...
Marine's final game of 2017 ended in another disappointing defeat as visitors Stourbridge enjoyed a comfortable victory in chilly Crosby. Manager Tommy Lawson made two changes to the team defeated by table-toppers Altrincham on Boxing Day, as Billy Smart and Florian Da Silva returned in place of the injured James Murray and suspended Michael Brewster.
The Mariners began brightly in heavy underfoot conditions and could have been two goals up within eight minutes. In the 5th minute a free-kick 25 yards from goal was touched for Danny Mitchley to fire goalward, Mitchley's effort being deflected into the path of Dominic Reid who seemed certain to score but his finish from six yards was somehow blocked on the line by visiting full-back Christophorou.
Just three minutes later Da Silva expertly rode a challenge in midfield before threading the ball through for Reid to burst into the Stourbridge area, however on this occasion Reid was denied one-on-one by Glassboys' custodian Gould's smart block.
The Whites were made to pay for their early profligacy midway through the half as Stourbridge right-back Westlake played a neat exchange with experienced striker Benbow before strolling into the Marine box unchallenged and firing into the bottom corner from 15 yards to give his side the lead.
Just before the half-hour mark the Crosby club's troubles doubled as Benbow's clever flick released winger Dodd on the right flank. Dodd's low cross into the box appeared to have been cut out by Phil Baker, but the defender's touch proved heavy and veteran midfielder Broadhurst stole in and was felled by Baker's lunge. Broadhurst picked himself up to drill the resultant spot-kick down the middle as Martin Fearon dived away to his left.
Stourbridge, who have struggled for form of late, now sensed an opportunity to put the game to bed before the interval and almost added an immediate third. A cross to the back post was knocked down into the path of Broadhurst and his rasping half-volley from 22 yards cleared the Crosender crossbar by inches.
However the visitors didn't have long to wait before extending their advantage and eleven minutes before the break the Mariners conceded possession cheaply in the centre-circle, a quick through-ball allowing Benbow to race in behind the home rearguard and produce a clinical first-time finish to give Fearon no chance and delight the travelling support.
The shell-shocked Mariners sought to respond and Vinny Bailey's free-kick caused confusion between Gould and Broadhurst, however Glassboys' skipper McCone was alert to head clear from underneath his own crossbar. From the resultant corner Billy Smart won his header 15 yards from goal but the ball sailed well wide of target to leave the Mariners with a second half mountain to climb.
Seven minutes into the second period the Mariners almost grabbed a lifeline as Smart's header from Da Silva's cross was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Gould. However that effort would proved the best the Mariners could muster for the remainder of the game, and indeed from the corner-kick the visitors launched a counter and Benbow's strong run ended with a scuffed finish from the edge of the box with Fearon fielded with ease.
Stourbridge came even closer to adding to their tally on the hour mark as winger Green was invited to shoot from 25 yards, his fine strike whistling narrowly past the angle of post and bar to Fearon's left.
The visitors were now content to allow the Whites plenty of possession inside Marine territory and look to counter quickly, but disappointingly from the home side's perspective the visiting rearguard rarely looked under any pressure as the Mariners lacked any sort of cutting edge to their play.
Indeed as the half wore on it looked increasingly likely that the visitors would extend their lead, and the lively Anderson fed Green whose shot flew a yard or two wide of goal from the edge of the area.
Anderson then combined effectively with Benbow for the latter to fire a yard wide from just outside the box, before the Mariners had shouts for a penalty waved away by referee Swallow, Reid tumbling between two red-shirted defenders in the box but receiving a caution for his troubles.
Stourbridge duly capped their victory in added time with a fine fourth goal of the game. Another poor Marine touch in an afternoon of poor Marine touches gifted possession to substitute Cooke who seized his opportunity to send a sweet shot unerringly into the top corner of the College Road net past Fearon's despairing dive.
The Mariners begin 2018 with a short trip along the M62 to face high-flying Warrington Town on New Year's Day, kick-off at the Winner Recruitment Stadium is at 3pm.
Marine: Martin Fearon, Peter Wylie, James Short, Adam Hughes, Phil Baker, Liam Tongue (Max Hazeldine 65), Dominic Reid, Billy Smart, Danny Mitchley (c), Vinny Bailey, Florian Da Silva.
Unused subs: Michael Grogan, Kenny Strickland, George Lomax, Germano Mendes. Cautions: Baker, Wylie, Hughes, Reid.
Stourbridge: Matthew Gould, Aris Christophorou, Darryl Westlake, Paul McCone (c), Stuart Pierpoint, Tom Tonks, Matt Dodd (Connor Gater 68), Leon Broadhurst, Luke Benbow, Kaiman Anderson (Brandon Hague 86, Josh Cooke 90), Josh Green.
Unused subs: Jack Duggan, Peter Hawk. Cautions: Green, Anderson.
Goals: Stourbridge; Westlake (23), Broadhurst (pen 29), Benbow (34), Cooke (90)
Referee: Mr Elliot Swallow
Assistants: Mr Daniel Goldman and Mr Shaun Taylor