MARINE 3-2 (AET) ATHERTON COLLIERIES – MATCH REPORT

Ralph Rands reports as Barrigan fires Mariners through to clash with Dragons…

James Barrigan’s penalty in the 120th minute saw Marine squeeze past Atherton Collieries in their Emirates FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round replay at the Marine Travel Arena.

Manager Neil Young made three changes to the Marine eleven which started Saturday’s goalless draw at the Skuna Stadium, David Raven returning from injury to replace James Devine who dropped to the bench, Ryan Wignall returning from suspension in place of the departed James Joyce, and Lewis Reilly given the central striker’s role in place of Niall Cummins.

The all-green garbed Colls had the best of the opening exchanges, an opening on their left allowing left-back Peet a sight of goal, but he cuffed his shot well wide of Bayleigh Passant’s left-hand upright.

Following a 15th minute Atherton corner, Glass’ volleyed effort was deflected narrowly wide by Kyle Hayde as the Mariners sought to weather the early Colls onslaught.

The Mariners gradually found a foothold in the game and broke the deadlock midway through the half. A throw-in on the left reached Wignall who squared to Hayde 25 yards out, the on-loan Tranmere youngster arrowing a right-footed shot into the bottom corner beyond the reach of Colls’ custodian Taberner.  

The visitors enjoyed a spell of pressure in the minutes following the goal, but once again the Marine defence stood up to the task and the Whites doubled their advantage ten minutes before the break. Neil Kengni’s excellent control and turn allowed him to free Wignall, the midfielder breaking into the box to place a composed finish past the helpless Taberner.

It was almost game, set and match shortly before the interal as a corner from the Marine right was met by Reilly whose header struck the Crosender Road crossbar flush before rebounding into play, as Neil Young’s men enjoyed a two-goal lead at half-time.

Atherton made a double change at the break, as Conway and Gillam replaced Glass and Defreitas-Hansen, and the former had an immediate impact as he reduced the Colls’ deficit on 47 minutes. The rangy Conway nicked the ball away from Barrigan before beating the advancing Passant from 15 yards to the delight of the travelling fans in the superb crowd of 1,099.

Just moments later and Conway almost restored parity, as a ball over the top saw the substitute’s left-footed effort beat Passant but not his left-hand post, the Mariners being relieved to smuggle the rebound to safety.

The Colls then had a couple of penalty shouts waved away by referee Thomas, and Passant made a smart save to push a free-kick behind for a corner which the Mariners defended well. At the other end the excellent Amado denied Owen Watkinson with a last-ditch challenge before Alex Doyle’s ball across the box looked to be on the proverbial plate for Wignall to notch his second of the evening, however visiting defender Smith stretched to take the ball off Wignall’s toe at the vital moment.

The Mariners sought to grab the vital third goal and Watkinson was clattered by the onrushing Taberner outside of the area, the Colls ‘keeper receiving a caution with most of the MTA baying for a harsher punishment.

With the Mariners looking to see out the game Atherton pushed forward to win a corner on their left in the 90th minute, throwing Taberner into the mix as well as the kitchen sink. As it was, the ball was half-cleared by the Marine defence as far as Conway who despatched the loose ball from 25 yards beyond Passant’s despairing dive and into the top corner to stun the home crowd.

Extra-time ensued, the ebb and flow of the game continuing with both sides sensing victory. Colls threatened first, a Cusani free-kick on the edge of the ‘d’ being parried away by the well-positioned Passant.

No further chances of note materialised in the first-half of the added 30 minutes, however Passant was again called upon to make a vital save at the start of the second-half, denying Cusani with a smart stop.

The Mariners then came close as Amado’s attempted clearing header ricocheted off Kengni, substitute Cummins stretching to toe the ball goalwards but just failing to connect as Taberner was relieved to gather.

With penalty-kicks set to decide the tie after 209 minutes of football had failed to separate two very evenly-matched teams, the Mariners found a dramatic 120th minute-winner a la the Havant & Waterlooville 2nd Round tie last November.

This time captain Cummins’ back wasn’t required as Kengni found the unstoppable Doyle bursting into the Colls box, the otherwise imperious Amado being adjudged to have brought the Marine midfielder down with a clumsy challenge. Barrigan stepped up to the spot in front of the Main Stand and although Taberner got a glove to the ball it found its way into the bottom corner of the rigging to send the Marine contingent into rapture.

There was still a couple of minutes of injury-time to negotiate, but the Men of Crosby saw out time to record another famous victory over higher-level opposition on one of the great nights at College Road.

Marine progress to a tie with National League club Wrexham at the Marine Travel Arena in the 4th Qualifying Round on Saturday 16th October.

Marine: B Passant, Hayde, Barrigan, Howarth, Shaw, Raven © (Solomon-Davies 101), Watkinson (Cummins 94), Doyle, Reilly (Lynch 54, (Devine 106)), Wignall, Kengni.

Unused subs: Hughes, Roberts, H Passant.

Goals: Marine; Hayde (23), Wignall (35), Barrigan (pen. 120)

Atherton Colls; Conway (47, 90)

Referee: Gareth Thomas

Assistant Referees: Kyle Lines and Jacob Viera.

Attendance: 1,099

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