Marine 2-2 Rushall Olympic
Mariners and Pics share spoils at MTA...
Marine came from two goals down to earn a point from their clash with Rushall Olympic at the Marine Travel Arena. Manager Tommy Lawson welcomed back skipper Danny Mitchley to replace George Lomax in the only change to the side defeated by Shaw Lane in midweek.
As in the Shaw Lane encounter, the Mariners found themselves on the back foot in the opening period but an improved second half showing saw them take a point on this occasion.
The Walsall-based club came close to making an early breakthrough as a free-kick floated in from their right reached centre-back Hull, but the ball came off Hull's shoulder rather than head and dropped a yard over the crossbar.
However the Pics didn't have too long too wait for their opening goal as a neat exchange on the edge of the Marine area allowed midfielder Landell to deliver a precise finish low past Martin Fearon from the right-hand side of the box.
Whilst the visitors are notorious for their robust style of play, to their great credit they added some excellent attacking play to their physicality in the opening period. On 19 minutes a free-flowing move saw the ball headed into Dubidat's path, but unlike Landell before him the striker's shot from the angle rolled narrowly past Fearon's right-hand post.
Just a minute later and the visitors duly doubled their advantage as the Mariners failed to heed the earlier warning. Another fine passing move saw veteran striker Brodie's clever flick find Whittall the midfielder stepping inside a challenge before beating Fearon from 12 yards with aplomb.
The Whites finally managed to create a half-chance on 33 minutes as John McGrath's jinking run on the edge of the Rushall box ended with him teeing-up Mitchley who stung Hill's palms with a fierce drive, the ball looping toward the far post and header clear by a visiting defender from underneath his own crossbar.
Dubidat then fired straight at Fearon from 22 yards following more fine approach play, before Rushall right-back Webb fired a yard or so wide of Fearon's right-hand post from 25 yards as the half drew to a close with the visitors somewhat unfortunate not to find themselves further ahead.
The early stages of the second half promised more punishment for Lawson's troops as Dubidat forced a fine save from Fearon, the 'keeper diving low to his right to parry at full stretch with the rebound being turned behind for a corner.
The Mariners dealt with the subsequent corner well and cleared long as McGrath latched onto the ball before feeding Mitchley whose goalbound shot was blocked. Kenny Strickland seized on the rebound but his low cross-shot rolled comfortably wide of goal.
Peter Wylie, Vinny Bailey and Florian Da Silva were introduced to add some much-needed experience to the young Marine side, but the visitors almost put the game to bed as firstly a defence-splitting pass saw Fearon out of the box to clear, the ball ricocheting against Dubidat as he closed but fortunately flying high and wide of the Crosender Road rigging.
The Pics then won a corner on their right and after Brodie had won the initial header, Dubidat flicked his effort over the bar from close-range to the relief of the MTA faithful.
However the Mariners were given the chance to halve their deficit from the spot with 20 minutes remaining. Da Silva's first contribution was to create space on the left, his cross reaching Mitchley who was unceremoniously barged over near the penalty spot by a Rushall defender. The Marine skipper picked himself up to despatch the spot-kick into the corner of the net with the minimum of fuss to give Hill little chance.
The momentum was now firmly with the Crosby club and Webb cleared from a yard out after Mitchley had lifted the ball over the onrushing Hill from an acute angle.
As the game became stretched and the Mariners sought an equaliser which had looked unlikely for the majority of the afternoon Rushall came close to sealing victory, Maye's header dropping onto the roof of the net after Brodie had teed-up Smikle to cross from the left.
With eight minutes remaining the Whites levelled matters following the award of a free-kick 25 yards out. Strickland's clever low strike to the near post caught Hill on his heels, the ball beating Hill's dive and finding the net via the upright.
In the closing stages the Mariners continued to press and Phil Baker had a couple of strikes from distance blocked by the Rushall rearguard, but time elapsed as a hard-fought contest ended in deadlock.
The Mariners travel to Workington on Tuesday evening in the Integro League Cup, kick-off at Borough Park is 7:45pm.
Marine: Martin Fearon, Kenny Strickland, James Short (Florian Da Silva 67), Adam Hughes, Phil Baker, Spencer Myers, John McGrath, Michael Brewster, Danny Mitchley (c), Tony Donaldson (Peter Wylie 46), Niall Watson (Vinny Bailey 59) .
Unused subs: Liam Tongue, Germano Mendes. Cautions: Short, Hughes, Myers.
Rushall Olympic: Jahquil Hill, Joshua Webb, Brian Smikle, Sam Whittall, Joe Hull, Michael Townsend (c), Andre Landell (Kacy-Milan Butterfield 73), Simeon Maye, Richard Brodie (AJ Adelekan 80), Daniel Dubidat, Daniel Waldron.
Unused subs: Joshua Sarmento, Bradley Maslen-Jones, Jordan Sangha. Cautions: Webb, Maye, Dubidat, Whittall.
Goals: Marine; Mitchley (pen 70), Strickland (82)
Rushall Olympic; Landell (10), Whittall (20),
Referee: Mr Nathaneal Cox
Assistants: Mr Alexander Beckett and Mr Niall Eaves