Marine 2-2 Witton Albion
Mariners share spoils with Albion at MTA...
Marine returned to the MTA following their recent travels and took a point from an entertaining clash which was unfortunately marred by a serious injury to Witton defender Nick Ryan. Tom Field replaced Danny Mitchley in the only change to manager Tommy Lawson's team from that which overcame Mickleover Sports on Tuesday, whilst Witton named four former Mariners in their squad for the game.
The Mariners, who headed into the game on the back of three successive away wins, began brightly and stand-in skipper Billy Smart's early foray into the Albion box went unrewarded as a strong challenge saw the ball ricochet off the midfielder for a goal-kick.
The visitors, having seen their play-off hopes dwindle of late created their first scoring opportunity as Tames acrobatically fired high and wide following a header back across the Marine area.
James Short gave the MTA faithful a taste of things to come as he surged into Albion territory, the popular left-back curling a right-footed effort from just outside the 'd' which former Marine custodian Hare held securely diving to his right.
The visitors came closest to breaking the deadlock in a half of few chances on 33 minutes, Dale finding space on the left flank and squaring into the path of Tames who unleashed a fierce drive which crashed against the underside of the Crosender Road crossbar but rebounded the right side of the goal-line from the home perspective. The follow-up shot from an Albion attacker was cleared by the well-positioned Kenny Strickland as the Whites breathed a sigh of relief.
The in-form Michael Brewster then combined effectively with Dominic Reid whose goalbound shot from the edge of the box was clutched by Hare above his head.
Reid was presented with a clearer sight of goal just before the break as Josh Amis fed the ball into the ex-Prescot striker's path but Reid's first touch took him wide of goal and he could only screw his left-footed finish well wide of target.
In the final action of the half the lively Tames had a shot blocked behind at close quarters by Strickland, the resulting corner falling to Tames who blazed a volley high over the bar from 15 yards as the game remained goalless at the interval.
The Mariners threatened at the start of the second period as Ryan missed his kick allowing Reid to burst into the box, but the Witton defender recovered to produce a fine last-ditch challenge as Reid seemed poised to strike.
The same two players contested a bouncing ball on halfway just a minute later in a challenge which left both players stricken for several minutes, the unfortunate Ryan suffering a severe leg injury and being stretchered off whilst Reid was eventually able to limp off the field of play but took no further part in the game.
Witton took the lead on 56 minutes shortly after the restart, an underhit backpass from Peter Wylie allowing Albion's Hopley to round Martin Fearon and slot home left-footed from eight yards.
However the Mariners levelled in similar fashion nine minutes later as another poor backpass, this time from Albion defender Wilson, saw James Murray nip in to poke the ball past Hare and shepherd it into the unguarded net.
Both sides sought a potential winning goal as the game entered the final twenty minutes, Wylie producing a fine challenge to prevent a clear goalscoring opportunity for the visitors. From the resulting corner Albion came even closer as the quadrant-kick fell to ex-Mariner Foley whose venomous half-volley brought a world-class parry from the flying Fearon away to his left.
At the other end it was the Mariners who were left to rue their luck as Amis' lobbed volley from 22 yards left Hare stranded but the ball struck the bar in a similar spot to Tames' first-half effort and rebounded into play, the Witton defence being relieved to clear.
The Whites came close once again five minutes from time as a ball whipped in from the right was headed goalwards by substitute George Donnelly, Hare this time producing a smart stop to claw the ball away one-handed.
Amis then advanced towards the Albion area but his low shot was fielded by Hare low to his right as the game entered six additional minutes.
In the second of these the Mariners scored what appeared to be the winner through an unlikely source, Short advancing down the left flank before cutting inside onto his supposedly weaker right-foot and drilling a low finish through legs and into the bottom corner for his first strike since March 2016.
However, in a dramatic finale Short's moment of magic was negated somewhat as Albion forced a corner in the sixth additional minute, the ball being headed across the face of goal and Tames was on hand to crash the ball home from close-range to deny Marine a fourth successive league victory.
The Mariners entertain Whitby Town in their final home league game of the campaign on Saturday, kick-off at the Marine Travel Arena is at 3pm.
Marine: Martin Fearon, Peter Wylie, James Short, Adam Hughes, Kenny Strickland, Billy Smart (c), Michael Brewster, Tom Field, Dominic Reid (George Donnelly 53), Josh Amis, James Murray.
Unused subs: Phil Baker, Tony Donaldson, Niall Watson, Germano Mendes. Cautions: Smart.
Witton Albion: Calvin Hare, Anthony Gardner, Matty Devine, Michael Wilson, Nick Ryan (Danny McKenna 53), James Foley, Owen Dale (Paul Williams 67), Prince Haywood, Rob Hopley (c), Will Jones, Steven Tames.
Unused subs: Micah Evans, Ryan Neild. Cautions: none.
Goals: Marine; Murray (65), Short (90)
Witton Albion; Hopley (56), Tames (90)
Referee: Mr Nat Cox
Assistants: Mr Steven Holden and Mr Mark Hughes