Adam Yates reports from a chilly Marine Travel Arena as the Mariners progressed to the quarter finals of the Liverpool Senior Cup after a tricky encounter with Widnes FC.

A second half flurry of goals, not to mention a couple of pivotal chances from the penalty spot entertained a frozen Crosby crowd of 267.

Manasse Mampala, Jonathan Spittle and Owen Robinson came into the starting line up as well as a debut for newly signed LB Matty Waters who replaces Nathan Woodthorpe who has returned to Chester following his successful and popular loan spell.

The first half was rather mediocre in entertainment terms. Marine did maintain most of the possession and captured unforced error opportunities from Widnes but the visitors were not to be ignored and they themselves produced a few attacking positions which warranted swift clearances and a tight defensive line by the hosts.

Louis White was first to trouble the Widnes keeper, Scott Van-Der-Sluis, with an ever growing cliched long range effort when a clearance went awry and landed at his feet. White’s chance rocked the underside of the bar and came out to Mampala who was possibly not given enough time to adjust his body and the shot went out of bounds.

Ten minutes later, Spittle, eager to follow up his goal at Basford nearly doubled his season tally but again, the crossbar came to the aid of Van-Der-Sluis. Several more chances followed in the first half by Sinclair-Smith, White, Ferguson and Harvey Gregson but to no avail as Marine were denied by their own finishing touches in the Widnes final third.

Very early in the second half, Spittle pulled up with a possible hamstring injury and was replaced by Jordan Lussey. Mampala had two great chances at close range but Van-Der-Sluis pulled off some great shot stopping to prevent the forward grabbing a third consecutive goal in front of a home crowd (that would come later).

On the 53rd minute, Marine were finally ahead thanks in no small part to Owen Robinson. Robbo went on a tricky run across the edge of the area and just when it seemed like he had run out of space he was tripped and awarded a penalty by referee Luis Griffiths. Despite Owen’s eagerness to finish the job, long standing penalty taker, Jordan Lussey stepped up and put the goal to bed in the bottom left hand corner despite the best efforts of Van-Der-Sluis.

Despite the dominating possession, Widnes were only one goal behind and had chances of their own, most notably from James Steele. The number 10 was through on goal but his effort glided past the far post only inches wide. Another chance came straight at Luke Hutchinson who stood his ground and stopped what looked like a certain equaliser.

The night really warmed up in the final segment of the game as both keepers were soon collecting balls from their nets as a trio of goals came in lightning fast succession. First up, Jordan Lussey through on goal was tackled by Van-Der-Sluis but the loose ball landed to the feet of Manasse who has proved to be the right guy in the right place at the right time of late and he was finally rewarded for several efforts tonight with an easy slotted goal for 2-0.

However that scoreline lasted mere seconds as Widnes took advantage of a flat footed Marine, as they pelted themselves down the right flank and with a pass from Steven Irwin, fresh on the field Widnes substitute, Joshua High pulled off a great finish to give his side a fighting chance with 10 minutes to go.

Joe Ferguson, who is currently enjoying a very impressive spell of form of late made it 3-1 moments later with a trademark run into the right hand side of the box and gave the main stand another reason for celebration.

As the clock struck 90, there was one final chapter to this captivating matchup in the form of another penalty, this time to Widnes. Ferguson gave away a foul inside the box and Ste Milne stepped up. It went right, high and very wide into the Crosender End leaving Milne to drop to the floor in anger and the freezing cold crowd to playfully jeer. It was the final moment of an action packed second half and Marine’s reward for getting past Widnes is the repeat of last year’s quarter final, Everton at the MTA.

Next up…

It’s the final game of our triple header at home as we entertain Stafford Rangers this Saturday for a 3pm kick off.

Marine: 1 Luke Hutchinson, 2 Joseph Ferguson, 3 Matty Waters, 4 Liam Nolan, 5 Chris Doyle, 6 Jonathan Spittle (Jordan Lussey 48′), 7 Finlay Sinclair-Smith (Connor Evans 85′), 8 Louis White (Chris Happi-Fankam 84′), 9 Manasse Mampala, 10 Owen Robinson, 11 Harvey Gregson

Subs: 12 Jordan Lussey, 13 Richard Cowderoy, 14 Connor Evans, 15 Chris Happi-Fankam, 16 Josh Wardle

Widnes: 1 Scott Van-Der-Sluis, 2 Sam Bhatti, 3 Matty Rain, 4 Brendan O’Brien, 5 Will Bell, 6 Olly Wright, 7 George Hassall, 8 Kris Holt (Steven Irwin 45′), 9 Will Jones (Matt Van Wyk 71′), 10 James Steele (Jack Byrne 79′), 11 Ste Milne

Subs: 12 Steven Irwin, 14 Joshua High, 15 Jack Byrne, 16 Matt Van Wyk, 17 Jack Walls

Liverpool County FA Senior Cup Second Round

Attendance: 267

Marine Man of the Match – Matty Waters

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