SKELMERSDALE UNITED 0 MARINE 3
By Neil Leatherbarrow
There was a lot at stake when Skelmersdale United entertained Marine at the Uretek Stadium for the “M58 Derby”, and by the end there was plenty for the 403 supporters present to discuss. It had exactly what you might expect from a derby encounter, a couple of excellent goals, a huge error, a sending off, a punch up and a missed penalty, not to mention plenty animosity between the respective benches, but not the managers I might add. The final outcome wasn’t a shock, so it could be said that it went “pretty much as expected.”
The big story of the day was that of former Skelmersdale manager Tommy Lawson bringing his new team over from Crosby to take on the club that controversially sacked him in January after eleven years in charge.
You say it was Tommy Lawson’s new team? The Marine line-up contained five former Skelmersdale players with another four on the substitute’s bench. A fact that just added to the spice of the occasion,
After a friendly handshake between present Skem manager Alan Rogers and Lawson the teams kicked off in sunshine.
It took Marine precisely three minutes to grab the lead. A loose pass from the home defence went to former Skem legend Kenny Strickland, he released former Skem striker Dan Mitchley down the inside-right channel and he despatched a thunderous drive into the far corner of the Skelmersdale net from 15 yards.
One player that did impress in the Marine team was forward Matt Hamilton and not for the last time in the afternoon he superbly brought a long ball under control in the eighth minute then after beating a defender his shot just whistled past the far post.
Skelmersdale were playing their part though and on 16 minutes Remy Howarth ran directly at a confused Mariners defender only to see his dipping 25 yard effort go the wrong side of the crossbar. This was followed a couple of minutes later by a double attempt by Bevan Burey after Steve Irwin has set him up, his initial shot was blocked the second was saved by Marine goalkeeper Paul Phillips.
Skem had their best chance of the half on 25 minutes. The energetic Howarth latched onto a cross field ball and was one on one with keeper Phillips; however, the experienced Marine custodian stood his ground and pulled off a terrific save.
There was something of the counterattack about Marine’s second goal on 37 minutes. Left-back James Short was known for his overlapping runs when he was at Skem and after such a run he crossed into the centre of the penalty area, from where Hamilton got above everyone to head firmly into the corner of the net.
After the interval Skelmersdale were seriously threatening and for a quarter of an hour had Marine on the back foot, Howarth having an early opportunity that perhaps he should have done better with.
Howarth was at his tormenting best for Skem and on 62 minutes his enterprise brought Skem the opening they needed. The Skem number seven took the ball to the line and drove it into the penalty area, Marine right-back Kisimba Kisimba handled the ball and a penalty was given. Up stepped Skelmersdale’s former Liverpool player Irwin, however, his well struck spot-kick was too central and Phillips was able to rescue Marine with an excellent save.
The penalty miss was crucial because two minutes later an error gave Mitchley the chance to make it 3-0 and he didn’t waste it. Skem’s seventeen year old goalkeeper Joe Hilton miss-kicked a clearance and the ball was fed to Mitchley, who after fending off a defender slotted home.
Skem had had Marine rocking and who knows what might have happened had they made it 1-2, but they were always going to struggle to pull back three goals.
Tempers took over after the third Marine goal and one or two wayward tackles started to proliferate. Eventually 14 minutes from the end Phil Mooney put in an over the top challenge on Marine midfielder Mike Brewster (a former team mate at Skem) it was clear he had to be sent off, but before then came the punch up, and it was, literally. Marine defender Adam Hughes landing one firmly on the chin of Mooney (see photograph), after verbal confrontations between the benches, referee Sam Mulhall duly dismissed Mooney, but didn’t do anything about Hughes.
It could be said that Skem did well with ten men as in the very latter stages, Irwin brought a fine diving save from Phillips then hit the crossbar with a header but by then the destination of the points was decided along with the holder of the bragging rights.
The margin probably flattered Marine a bit; they were definitely the better side on the day, their experience being the difference against the Skelmersdale youngsters.
SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Hilton, Jefferies, Grogan, Dobie, Vaughan-Muscat, Mooney, Howarth, Irwin, Burey, Gillespie, Allen (Bradshaw)
MARINE: Phillips, Kisimba, Short, Hughes, Wylie, Brewster, DaSilva (Wall, 67), Strickland (Foley, 53), Mitchley, Hamilton, Menagh (Shacklock, 67) Subs (not used) Fosu-Mensah, Foy
Referee: Sam Mulhall