Stalybridge Celtic 0-2 Marine : Match Report

Stalybridge Celtic 0-2 Marine : Match Report

By Ralph Rands
7th September
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Mariners through to 2nd Qualifying Round following Bower Fold success...


Marine progressed to the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup, producing the archetypal away performance to emerge victorious at Bower Fold.

New loan signing Shamal George was preferred to Germano Mendes in goal, whilst Steve Irwin returned from suspension as manager Neil Young was able to name a fully-fit squad for the game in Tameside.

The home side, playing their league football a division above the Mariners this season following the two club's contrasting fortunes last April, started brightly and put the Marine rearguard under pressure almost from the first whistle.

However the Mariners dealt well with the early onslaught, George claiming a couple of crosses to settle any early nerves on his debut, whilst his back-four restricted the home side's opportunities in front of goal. Stalybridge's only clear-cut chance came when striker MacDevitt ran through to poke the ball past George, however Scott Lycett was on hand to clear the danger.

Almost immediately, the Crosby side took the lead in the 18th minute with their first attack of note. Good build-up play led to an incisive pass playing Josh Solomon-Davies in on the right, the full-back's low centre being met by the onrushing Niall Cummins who slotted past Celtic custodian Foticek from 8 yards.

The Celts continued to enjoy the home side's share of possession and territory, but were continually frustrated by the resolute Marine defence, with Lycett particularly to the fore with an almost foot-perfect display.

Shortly before the break Valentine fired a venomous shot goalward from the right-hand side of the Marine area, but George produced a great reaction save to break the ex-Scarborough midfielder's heart, turning the ball behind for a corner which came to nought.

Playing down the not inconsiderable Bower Folds slope after the restart, the gold & black shirted Mariners impressed themselves on the contest to a greater degree than they had been able to in the first half.

The Celts did come close to finding an equaliser on a couple of occasions, a header from a corner being cleared from the foot of the post by that man Lycett, before substitute Wilkinson's speculative but incredibly well-struck effort forced George into a fingertip touch over the top, to maintain the Mariners' slender advantage.

Marine sub Rumenio Barai came within a whisker of settling any late nerves in the away support as he skilfully turned a Stalybridge defender but saw his low drive strike the base of Foticek's left-hand upright.

However the Mariners ensured their name would go into the hat/velvet bag/mouldy old shoe-box for Monday's draw with five minutes remaining. The seemingly ubiquitous Irwin pressured a Stalybridge defender and pinched possession, allowing the equally industrious James Barrigan to advance almost to the byline. The winger showed composure to pick-out Barai at the far post, the masking-taped avenger nipping in ahead of his marker to apply the coup de grace from 6 yards out, opening his account to the delight of the travelling Mariners.

Neil Young's men saw out four minutes of added time to secure a thoroughly professional, not to mention valuable, victory against higher-division opposition. In doing so, the Mariners recorded their second successive clean sheet and of course maintained their unbeaten start of the season.

Stalybridge Celtic: Alex Foticek, Declan Walker, Kallum Mantack, Anthony Whitehead, Mark Lees, Stephen O'Halloran (c), Scott Bakkor, Ross Dent (Jack O'Leary 59), Liam MacDevitt (Adam Freeland 70), Nathan Valentine, Neil Kengni (Greg Wilkinson 59).

Subs: Cameron Moore, Joe Mensah, Khalid Kharufa.

Marine: Shamal George, Josh Solomon-Davies, James Ellison, Kenny Strickland, Anthony Miley, Scott Lycett, Craig Lindfield (Rumenio Barai 63), Steve Irwin, Niall Cummins (c) (Brett Mbalanda 83), Ethan Devine (James Devine 72), James Barrigan.

Subs: Patrick Staunton, Francois Antoine, Germano Mendes, Kieran Holsgrove.

Referee: Ian Johnston
Assistant Referees: Jonathon Spencer and Mark Findlay

Goals: Marine; Cummins (18), Barai (85)

Attendance: 284

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