Marine 3-0 Lancaster City
Mariners banish Blues at MTA...
Marine enjoyed a comfortable and impressive win over Lancaster City, recording back-to-back home league wins for the first time this season in the process. Manager Tommy Lawson kept faith with the starting eleven which overcame Hednesford Town last Saturday, with the Whites' squad appearing as settled and as strong as it was during the excellent run of form in the two months prior to Christmas.
The visiting Dolly Blues mustered the first shot across the bows of the evening, skipper Carney's well-struck effort from 25 yards never troubling Martin Fearon as it sailed comfortably over the bar.
The Marine 'keeper was tested however in City's next attack, striker Djabi's low shot from just outside the 'd' forcing Fearon to hold low to his left.
The in-form James Short then attempted to go one better from a set-piece in a slightly wider area, his shot sailing high over the Crosender Road crossbar, but on 15 minutes the Mariners made the vital breakthrough.
Short's wing wizardry saw him trick his way past two blue-shirted defenders before being scythed down by the third on the left-hand edge of the Lancaster box. The resulting free-kick was only half-cleared and Adam Hughes reacted quickest to swivel and fire in a fierce drive through the crowded area from 15 yards and give City 'keeper Wynne little chance, Hughes' strike rendering the dubious goals panel redundant for the evening.
The short-benched Blues were forced into two substitutions before the half-hour mark through injury, but they came close to equalising as winger Winder's neat work and low ball to the near post saw Kilifin's shot on the stretch deflected over the bar by Hughes.
Djabi's daisy-cutter from the corner of the Marine area was directed straight at Fearon who held securely, before skipper Danny Mitchley was denied at the other end having turned sharply but having his shot blocked at close quarters.
Lancaster struck the woodwork seven minutes before the break as a ball in from their right flank into the danger area saw Kenny Strickland's inadvertent touch direct the ball towards goal, but Fearon reacted brilliantly to tip the ball onto the crossbar from close range, Short turning the ball behind under pressure and the Mariners were relieved to clear the resultant corner to safety.
On the stroke of half-time the luckless visitors were forced into a further change as Djabi succumbed to injury, and worse was to follow for the Giant Axe outfit as midfielder Williams failed to emerge at the start of the second half, leaving Lancaster to play the second period with ten men in rather bizarre circumstances.
The Whites sensed their chance to capitalise and duly obliged two minutes after the break, Mitchley holding off a challenge to feed the ball wider to Michael Brewster on the right, the midfielder's delicious cross leaving Wynne and the City defenders bereft and giving Mitchley the opportunity to nod home from inches out to notch his 22nd goal of another fruitful campaign.
Just before the hour mark the Mariners came close to a third goal of the evening as Mitchley brought down a high-ball expertly and fed Josh Amis on the right of the box, the big striker's driven low ball across the face of goal failing to receive the decisive touch from a teammate.
Amis displayed his confidence once more as Mitchley again held up play well and found the ex-Stockport County striker whose well-struck curling effort from 25 yards flew a yard or two wide of Wynne's left-hand upright.
With numerical advantages both on the pitch and on the scoresheet the Whites were seemingly coasting towards victory, but received a wake-up call ten minutes from time as they conceded possession cheaply in midfield. A low ball across the face of goal from a blue-shirted attacker struck the recovering Peter Wylie and the ball trickled towards the bottom corner, but Fearon was smartly across to smother and maintain his side's two-coal cushion.
Wylie soon helped the Mariners seal victory at the other end of the pitch as his testing cross from the right saw Amis challenge with Wynne who had proved less than convincing in dealing with crosses earlier in the game, the 'keeper failing to collect and the ball fell perfectly for substitute James Murray to prod home from eight yards out and reach double figures for the season despite a lengthy absence through injury.
The tireless Kilifin continued to seek a consolation for the visitors and came close as neat approach play allowed the striker to curl a left-footed shot narrowly wide of Fearon's left-hand post.
The Whites came even closer to adding a fourth as the game entered added time as Murray's low ball across the six-yard box allowed Billy Smart to attempt an impudent flick, sans safety net, but a City defender somehow got a touch to the ball to deflect it inches wide of target.
The last action of the game saw Tom Field block a clearance just outside the visitor's area and the rebound flew narrowly past the angle of post and bar, time elapsing as the Mariners move further clear of the single relegation place in effect this season.
The Mariners travel to Staffordshire on Saturday hoping to secure a quick league double over Hednesford Town, having beaten the Pitmen at the MTA last weekend. Kick-off at Keys Park is at 3pm.
Marine: Martin Fearon, Peter Wylie, James Short (Phil Baker 75), Adam Hughes, Kenny Strickland, Billy Smart, Michael Brewster (James Murray 66), Tom Field, Danny Mitchley (c), Josh Amis, Liam Tongue (John McGrath 54).
Unused subs: Dominic Reid, Germano Mendes. Cautions: none.
Lancaster City: Elliot Wynne, Simon Wills, Adam Sumner, Billy Akrigg, Adam Anson, Steven Williams, Charlie Bailey (Sam Bailey 30), Craig Carney (c), Tom Kilifin, Mamadou Djabi (Joshua Gregory 45), Paul Jarvis (Ryan Winder 25).
Unused sub: Paul Dugdale. Cautions: Wills, Williams.
Goals: Marine; Hughes (15), Mitchley (47), Murray (82).
Referee: Mr Michael Crusham
Assistants: Mr Daniel Chadwick and Mr Daniel Tyas