Hednesford Town 0-1 Marine
5 star service from Hilton as Mariners win again...
Marine extended their 2019 unbeaten League run with a hard fought win over Hednesford Town on Saturday, Steve Irwin netting the only goal of the game after 28 minutes.
The Pitmen created a number of good chances, particularly in the second half but came up against an inspired Joe Hilton in the Marine goal, the Everton loanee producing a fine display of glovemanship to keep another clean sheet.
James Murray had a good chance to open the scoring for the visitors inside the opening five minutes, but dragged his shot wide of Kieran Preston's far post.
Reece King had a couple of headers off target for the homesters before there was a lengthy break in play, Irwin receiving the full Cus D'Amato corner man treatment for a nasty gash above his eye.
Hilton was soon in action with a smart save down to his right to keep out a shot from Jud Ellis, the resultant corner being smuggled off the line by a combination of Kenny Strickland's bonce and the crossbar.
Marine went ahead with a well worked goal just before the half hour, Craig Carney's cross in to the penalty area being held by Niall Cummins before the big striker produced a delightful backheel, shaven headed sorcerer Irwin firing home inside the near post without breaking stride.
The Mariners had strong penalty claims waived away after Murray got goalside of Ben Bailey, the defender appearing to take his man first before the faintest of touches on the ball.
Kieran Wells had Town's best chance of the half when latching on to a through ball, but Hilton stood firm and diverted the striker's effort against the post.
Hilton made several more top class saves to deny Wells, Javan Vidal and King as the hosts pressed, Marine's chances falling to Irwin with a shot over the top and Carney who had a late effort blocked.
The Mariners lost Niall Cummins to an ankle injury leading to the mercurial front man leaving the field on a stretcher, but his team mates saw out time to record their third straight win and 7th in 9 games to move to 14th in the table.
Marine return to the Marine Travel Arena on Saturday 23rd February when they take on Workington.
Hednesford Town: Kieran Preston, Alex Melbourne, Nathan Fox (Ethan Jones 83), Alex-Ray Harvey, Jonathan Moran, Ben Bailey (Cap), Javan Vidal, Reece King, Shane Benjamin, Kieran Wells, Jud Ellis (Jordon Sangha 71).
Unused subs: Charlie Gatter, Lewis Archer, Jose Veiga (G/K).
Marine: Joe Hilton, Sam Tattum, Charley Edge, Sam Barnes, Chris Doyle, Kenny Strickland (Cap), James Murray (Danny Shaw 65), Steve Irwin, Craig Carney, Niall Cummins (Michael Elstone 85), Will Dunne (Liam Hynes 46).
Unused subs: Danny Mitchley, Germano Mendes (G/K).
Referee: Mr. P. Stonier.
Assistants: Mr. D. Critchlow, Mr. A. Ovens.