Marine 1-1 Nantwich Town
Mariners and Dabbers all-square at MTA...
Marine and Nantwich shared the spoils in an entertaining clash on a chilly evening in Crosby. Manager Tommy Lawson made two enforced changes as Phil Baker and James Murray replaced James Short and Liam Tongue.
The green-garbed Cheshire outfit began brightly and enjoyed the better of the first half, an early shout for a penalty following a Peter Wylie challenge being waved away by referee Bennett.
Nantwich's continued to apply pressure to the College Road goal, and following a corner the lively Cook fired high over the bar from 22 yards.
The Dabbers' domination of possession and territory was rewarded in the 20th minute as more pressure around the Marine box led to an initial shot being blocked, the loose ball falling kindly for striker Clayton to beat Martin Fearon from 8 yards.
The Whites' stopper had to be at his very best seven minutes later, Cook's venomous 25-yard strike looking destined for the top corner but Fearon made a tremendous flying parry to push the ball away to safety.
The Mariners managed their first shot on target on the half-hour mark as a corner from the right reached Adam Hughes who didn't connect as sweetly as intended with a right-footed effort from the edge of the box, visiting custodian Boney saving with relative ease low to his right.
Fearon was in action once more just before the break as ex-Mariner Mwasile looked to latch onto a through ball, but Fearon raced well outside of his area to make a very timely block into touch as Lawson's troops trailed narrowly at half-time.
Having struggled against a useful Nantwich side in the first period, the Mariners were greatly improve in the second and enjoyed the better of the half. Wylie's strong run down the right flank and low ball across the face of goal evaded Billy Smart's run and the Town defence smuggled the ball clear at the second attempt.
The game then became somewhat stretched for a spell as the Mariners pressed for an equaliser with the visitors quick on the counter. The Whites conceded possession cheaply in midfield and Cole advanced into the box, his initial shot being blocked and his volley on the rebound directed straight at Fearon who held securely.
Cole threatened again shortly afterwards as another Marine mistake in midfield allowed Cole to push the ball wide of the onrushing Fearon, a foot race ensued and Fearon just about managed to make the telling block and turn the ball behind at the base of his left-hand post.
Substitute Dominic Reid entered the fray just before the hour mark in place of Phil Baker, as Hughes moved to his familiar centre-back role and James Murray deputised at left-back.
Reid was soon involved and his low cross from the byline took an awkward bounce and almost led to another own goal, the ball ricocheting off a green-shirted defender and whistling past the angle of post and crossbar. However the Mariners took full advantage as from Kenny Strickland's pinpoint corner the in-form Josh Amis eluded his marker to power a header into the bottom corner from 8 yards out for his fourth goal in three games.
The big striker could and perhaps should have added to his tally on 77 minutes as he latched on to a ball over the top of the Town defence, however Amis delayed his shot and Stair recovered well to make a last-ditch challenge and send the ball looping over the bar for a corner which came to nought.
In the final ten minutes Nantwich skipper Hughes found space to shot from 22 yards but sent his effort high over the bar, before Amis tumbled in the box chasing a ball forward but arbiter Alan Bennett aptly waved the play on.
Skipper Danny Mitchley's excellent control and superb reverse pass into Smart's path then gave the midfielder the chance to win it for the Whites, but Smart's finish proved tame and was easily gathered by Boney.
The Mariners continued to press for a late winner and another Strickland corner from the left saw Hughes rise highest but glance his header a couple of yards wide of target.
In the final meaningful action of the game, play swung from one end to the other as both teams came close to a deciding goal. Another strong run from Reid saw his low ball across the box narrowly evaded Smart's run to the near post, and Nantwich quickly broke forward to give Mwasile the chance to win it from 15 yards, but Fearon's excellent display was capped by another smart save to ensure the Whites earned a deserved point.
The Mariners are in action again on Saturday as they entertain Buxton at the Marine Travel Arena, kick-off is at 3pm.
Marine: Martin Fearon, Peter Wylie, Adam Hughes, Kenny Strickland, Phil Baker (Dominic Reid 57), Billy Smart, Michael Brewster, Tom Field, Danny Mitchley (c), Josh Amis, James Murray.
Unused subs: Tony Donaldson, Niall Watson, Germano Mendes. Cautions: Wylie.
Nantwich Town; Myles Boney, Jamie Morgan, Courtney Wildin, Joel Stair, Troy Bourne, Casper Hughes (c) (Tobias Mullarkey 90), Joe Mwasile, Matthew Bell, Harry Clayton, Sean Cook, Jordan Cole (Nathan Cotterell 79).
Unused subs: Clayton McDonald, Sam Wakefield, Stephen Jones. Cautions: Morgan.
Goals: Marine; Amis (60)
Nantwich Town; Clayton (20)
Referee: Mr Alan Bennett
Assistants: Mr Keith Martin and Mr Mark Groves