REPORT: Marine 2-1 Widnes
Widnes narrowly beaten in Liverpool Senior Cup Semi Final
Widnes FC suffered a heart-breaking loss in the last four of the Liverpool Senior Cup, going down 2-1 against Evo-Stik Premier Division side Marine on Tuesday night.
A Danny Mitchley penalty put the Mariners ahead after 54 minutes but Widnes joint boss Kev Towey swiftly replied with a spot-kick of his own.
The goals set up a tense finish, but seven-time winners Marine booked their place in the final as Widnes' Joe Fielding put through his own net 12 minutes from time.
It was a somewhat depleted Widnes side without George and Chris Lomax who were both cup-tied, while Michael Grogan and Stuart Cook were both ineligible for selection.
This forced Towey and joint boss Steve Akrigg into tinkering with their side, with Dylan Sweeney forced to deputise at right-back while Phil Doran moved into midfield.
The game began at a high tempo, with Richie Mottram twice called into action early doors for Widnes.
He had to be alert to get down well to gather a 25-yard Kenny Strickland effort, and four minutes later, Mottram pulled off a terrific save at full stretch to push a glancing Adam Hughes header away to safety.
Widnes hit back, with Ben Hodkinson dragging an effort wide before Doran rattled the crossbar - the closest the visitors came to taking a first half lead.
With both sides enjoying their fair share of possession, Doran had another effort saved by Marine goalkeeper Martin Fearon before Florian da Silva fired wide for the hosts.
The first half ended goalless, but Marine opened the scoring seven minutes into the second period.
Liam Tongue was brought down in the area by Mottram, with Mitchley confidently dispatching his penalty past Mottram to put Tommy Lawson's hosts ahead.
Despite Dominic Reid hitting the post for Marine, Widnes quickly responded, notching an equaliser four minutes later.
Joint manager Towey marked his 34th birthday with a goal, converting a spot-kick of his own to set up an exciting final 30 minutes.
The impressive Mitchley came close again for Marine as the game drew to it's conclusion, and the home side struck what proved to be a fatal blow to Widnes hopes 12 minutes from the end.
A free kick was swung into the area, and Widnes defender Fielding got the final touch before the ball ended up in the back of the net to seal victory for Marine.
It was a harsh way for the tie to be decided, and a disappointing one for Widnes, who came into the tie in fine league form and having beaten Southport 5-1 in the previous round of the competition.
Attention quickly turns to Saturday's mouth-watering Halton Derby with Runcorn Linnets at the Millbank Linnets Stadium, a first-ever meeting between the two sides.