George Newell scored a brace on his first start back at Marine, as the league leaders return to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Ramsbottom United.
Danny Shaw returned to the back three alongside David Raven and Mark Howarth, with Kyle Hayde shifting to right wing back to accommodate new signing Luke Higham on the left. David Lynch and Alex Doyle occupied the centre of the pitch, behind an attacking trio of George Newell, Lewis Reilly and Neil Kengni.
Early spells of pressure from the home side resulted in a succession of corners, which brought about the game’s opening goal.
Ramsbottom failed to fully clear the original set piece, with Doyle swinging the ball back into the box. Goalkeeper Tom Stewart spilled his catch, as Mark Howarth latched on to the loose ball to fire Marine into the lead.
Attacking-wise, Ramsbottom struggled to pose much of a threat to the Marine defence, with John Murphy looking the liveliest in an isolated front line.
Kengni came close to scoring one of the best team goals of the season, as a combination of substitute Ryan Wignall, Reilly, Newell and Higham eventually worked the ball to the club’s top goal scorer, only for Kengni to fire narrowly wide.
At the break, Marine were deservedly in front, but would have been aware of the need for a second goal to kill hopes of a comeback.
And that is exactly what happened in the 48th minute, as Kengni fantastically slid the ball in behind for Newell, who slotted into the bottom right corner, scoring his first Marine goal since returning.
The second goal of the match reaffirmed Marine’s control on the game, rewarding them for their dominance throughout the first 45 minutes.
It didn’t take long for Marine to open up a three-goal lead either, with Reilly this time finding himself in acres of space in the middle of the Rams’ half, picking out Newell to smash his effort past Stewart for his second.
Away side substitutes Aron Flemming and Tom Hartley provided flashes of promise for Ramsbottom, but nothing that caused Marine too much panic.
Hartley’s cross was almost converted by Domaine Rouse, who’s on-the-stretch poke smashed into the side netting.
Wignall could have added a fourth for Marine, as Ben Hughes’ effort deflected into the path of his teammate, but the midfielder could only strike the post with his shot.
Fifteen minutes from time, Rouse gave Ramsbottom a lifeline, converting his penalty after Bayleigh Passant brought down Murphy inside the penalty area.
The visitors seemed to gain confidence from their goal, consistently attacking up until the final whistle, until referee Simon Robinson called time on the game, signalling yet another home win for Marine.
Neil Young’s side have now won seven out of seven league matches at the Marine Travel Arena and stay two points clear at the top, with two games in hand.
Next up for Marine is the visit of Runcorn Linnets on Tuesday night, who currently sit in seventh.
Marine: Passant, Hayde, Higham, Howarth, Raven (Wignall), Shaw, Lynch, Doyle, Reilly (Cummins), Newell (Hughes), Kengni