Ralph Rands reports as Mariners overpower Cables at MTA…
Marine bounced back to winning ways with victory over Prescot Cables in front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd at the Marine Travel Arena.
Manager Neil Young rang the changes as the Mariners played their fourth game in ten days, with Danny Shaw, Lewis Reilly, Ryan Wignall and debutant Dean Winnard all making their first starts of the season.
Despite the re-organisation the Mariners were soon on the front foot, enjoying the lion’s share of first half possession and territorial advantage. Neil Kengni’s well-struck half-volley from an acute angle forced Cables custodian Allen into a smart stop as he parried the rising ball over his crossbar.
Kengni’s involvement led to the opening goal on 14 minutes, as the winger was tripped just a yard outside the Prescot penalty area. Lewis Reilly stepped up and despatched a terrific right-footed free-kick into the top corner to the delight of the Marine contingent among the 1181 spectators at the MTA.
Cables sought to equalise immediately and a flicked-header release veteran striker Tames, but skipper David Raven recovered superbly to dispossess Tames and avert the danger.
That man Kengni tested Allen midway through the opening period with a half-volley from the edge of the box following a Marine corner, but Allen managed to gather at the second attempt with Reilly looking to pounce.
Another corner from the Mariners’ left was the swung-in by Alex Doyle with Dean Winnard being denied a goal on his debut by the outstretched leg of visiting defender Dwyer, who somehow diverted Winnard’s header wide from the goalline.
As the interval approached, Cables came as close as they had thus far through McMilan’s sweetly-struck effort from 22 yards, however the ball sailed several feet over the bar as McMilan and his associates trailed the Mariners at the break.
Whilst the Mariners largely dominated the first half, the Pesky Bulls began the second with far greater intent. McMilan tried his luck from distance once more, but his shot, although on target, was easily fielded by Bayleigh Passant.
Passant was then required to turn a curling effort from Cables midfielder Sharp behind for a corner, the ball bouncing somewhat awkwardly in front of the ex-Tranmere Rovers stopper.
Dean was next to go close for the visitors but the experienced front-runner lofted his shot clear of the College Road crossbar from 12 yards out.
At the other end Owen Watkinson’s daisy-cutter almost caught out Allen, but the keeper’ saved low to his right at the base of the post, before Reilly turned sharply in the box but saw his rising shot narrowly clear the bar.
However the Mariners doubled their lead on 66 minutes in rather controversial circumstances, as Ryan Wignall’s goalbound effort from the edge of the box after a surging run by James Joyce striking Reilly’s shoulder, the deflection wrong-footing Allen who was already committed to his dive. Long and loud protestations from the Cables players and management followed, the visitors claiming that Reilly was in an offside position when the ball struck him. Nevertheless, referee Mitchell and his Assistant awarded the goal to give Marine a two-goal cushion.
Cables were not quite finished though, and Joyce’s trip on winger Johnson just inside the box gave McMilan the chance to reduce their deficit from the spot, which he did with a coolly taken penalty despite Passant guessing correctly.
Marine absorbed everything Cables could muster in the closing stages and sealed victory in the 89th minute. A poor clearance from Allen fell to James Barrigan, whose well-weighted pass into the path of fellow substitute Niall Cummins allowed the club captain the chance to fire home past Allen’s outstretched leg from just inside the area.
A deserved and important win for the Mariners ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Dunston in the 1st Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup.
Marine: Passant, Winnard, Joyce, Howarth (Barrigan 51), Shaw, Raven (c), Watkinson (Hughes 69), Doyle, Reilly (Cummins 75), Wignall, Kengni.
Unused subs: Devine, Lynch.
Goals: Reilly (14, 66), Cummins (89)