A fine late goal from substitute Craig Gott was enough to give Marske the narrowest of victories in a keenly fought contest.
Manager Dave Smith made just one change from the 5-1 thrashing of Carlton and it was enforced. Jack Richardson was absent due to the FA’s guidelines on concussion, which meant a recall for Jon Oglesby. There was also a welcome return on the bench for the fit again duo of Luke Mascall and Scott Vernon. The side lined up as follows:
Goal: Theo Richardson
Defence: Tim Lowe, Paul Walker, Oli Donald, Sam Topliss
Midfield defence: Craig Disley, Alex Flett (captain)
Midfield attack: Lewis Collins, Brody Robertson, Jon Oglesby
Attack: Josh Batty
Subs: Luke Mascall, Danny North, Scott Vernon, Jack Boswell, Mark Gray
Having survived a 10am pitch inspection, due to the hard work of volunteers behind the scenes, the fixture got off to a fast start, with the woodwork struck three times in the opening 13 minutes.
Firstly, Fairley tried a speculative effort for the visitors from the best part of 40-yards, which cannoned off the top of the crossbar. Then, the Seasiders came close again when a Round volley beat keeper Richardson, but the Owls were once again rescued by the goalframe.
Shortly after these two early scares, it was Clee’s turn to curse their luck. Great persistence near the by-line from Robertson, who had gone close to connecting with an Oglesby cross in the 4th minute, took him round a defender and created space for a shot. Away stopper Merwitt was left flailing at thin air, but the ball hit the base of the upright and away to safety.
Following this hectic spell, the encounter settled down, with half-chances the order of the day. The reliable Richardson did well to punch clear a couple of corners and Round flashed a dangerous ball across the 6-yard box. Clee responded with captain Flett floating in a teasing free-kick on 33 minutes which found Disley, but the midfielder could not get his header on target.
The best chance of the half fell to the Seasiders in the 38th minute. A square ball from Martin located Round in a spot of space around 12 yards out. However, Richardson was alert to the shot and spread himself well to beat it away.
Marske were adopting the long throw tactic from both flanks, which caused a couple of concerns in the Owls’ area. However, despite having plenty of heading to undertake, the defence was coping well and the sides went in goalless at the break.
HT Cleethorpes Town 0 Marske United 0
Clee, knowing that a win would see them climb to within two points of the play-off zone, started brightly from the restart. Lowe got well forward and saw his shot deflected over. Then Batty tested Merwitt, but the visiting keeper got down to gather at his near post.
The next phase of play was a real arm wrestle for the initiative, with no clear chances to speak of and the evenly-matched sides largely cancelling each other out. Scott Vernon was introduced in the 64th minute, replacing Josh Batty.
Marske forced a couple of corners as the game drifted into the final quarter and from the second of these, Martin had a golden opportunity, but headed wide from a central position.
Danny North entered the fray for Brody Robertson and, just when it seemed that the game was destined for the Owls first 0-0 at home in over 7 years, then Craig Gott produced a moment of quality to settle matters. The substitute picked up the ball in the inside-right channel and struck a delightful curling shot into the top corner.
The management immediately made their final change, with Craig Disley withdrawn in favour of Luke Mascall. After the setback of Marske’s goal, the Owls belatedly sprang to life and played their best football of the afternoon.
After a big appeal for a penalty was waved away, the recently introduced Mascall snuck in at the back post but failed to keep his shot down and the lively Collins also went close.
The chance to save the day came deep into 4 added minutes, when Clee were awarded a free-kick. Everyone was massed in the Seasiders’ area, including keeper Richardson, and Flett’s delivery was met by Donald. Agonisingly, as the home faithful rose to their feet in anticipation, the ball flashed just the wrong side of the post.
FT Cleethorpes Town 0 Marske United 1 (Gott 80) Attendance: 351
A chance missed but all good runs come to an end I’m afraid! Pretty even overall and we could argue that a draw would have been fair. However, a pity that it was not until we fell behind that we looked at our most threatening.
It looked for all money like it was going to end goalless and I was just digging out some fascinating(!) stats about our lack of nil-nils. They will just have to wait for another day – please try to contain your excitement!!
A quick chance for revenge next Saturday and, if we are to maintain our hopes of the top 5, we cannot afford another reverse. Despite the defeat yesterday, 21 points from the last 10 games is a great achievement at this level. So, best to keep everything in perspective and brace ourselves to gather as many victories as possible from the last 13 fixtures!
Our generous sponsors Immingham Transport Limited gave the man-of-the-match to the dependable Tim Lowe, which is fair enough. Indeed, I felt sorry for the defence and Theo Richardson not to collect a clean sheet. However, for me, Lewis Collins (especially in the first half) grabs the accolade.
Saturday 9th February – 3pm
Marske United – Evostik East
Mount Pleasant Avenue, Marske-by-the-Sea, Cleveland, TS11 7BW
Adults £8, Concessions (over 65s, 16-18 and students) £4, Under 16s £2
UP THE OWLS!