A second half own goal gifted Marine a 1-0 win over a competitive Colne side, as Neil Young’s injury crisis increases.
As they have done frequently in recent weeks, the Mariners once again lined up with three centre halves, with Mark Howarth returning to the side following his suspension. Kyle Hayde moved from centre back to right wing back, with Josh Solomon-Davies dropping to the bench. There was also a slight tweak in attack, with Ben Hughes coming in for Owen Watkinson, who came off holding his hamstring on Saturday.
The game started in end-to-end fashion, with Charlie Russell’s dangerous low cross requiring attention from the Marine defence, who managed to clear their lines. At the other end, Alex Doyle’s in swinging corner put Colne ‘keeper Craig Ellison under pressure, but James Devine’s header flew over the crossbar.
A stoppage in play soon followed however, with left wing back James Joyce receiving treatment for a head injury.
Manager Neil Young said: “He’s got a number of cuts in the back of his head, from a boot, which he’s had glued this morning.
“We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Marine’s momentum was somewhat halted by the stoppage, with Colne beginning to enjoy more lengthy spells of possession, but without troubling Bayleigh Passant. The make-shift defensive unit must be credited for their organisation and resilience, with Danny Shaw (the only fit natural centre back at the club) demonstrating excellent leadership in recent games.
Home supporters were left incensed at around the half hour mark, as captain Niall Cummins was penalised for a challenge on Aaron Turner, with the Colne defender handling the ball before the referee’s whistle. Many were left bemused as to why the free kick had even been given, instead suggesting that a penalty should have been awarded for hand ball.
Going into half time, there was definitely room for improvement for Marine, with the forwards struggling to grow into the game.
Into the second half, Neil Kengni would have been kicking himself for not dispatching of either of the two best chances of the game, after lofted balls into the path of the forward put him in on goal. On both occasions Ellison kept Kengni’s efforts out.
With 20 minutes to go, the deadlock was finally broken, as James Barrigan’s free kick from the right flank was flicked into the net by a Colne defender. In truth, the goal came as a slight surprise, with many in the stand expecting a goalless outcome.
In the dying seconds of the match, Colne were awarded a free kick from a dangerous position, around 20 yards from goal. With the rain lashing down over the Marine Travel Arena, Passant stretched fantastically to tip the ball onto the crossbar, with the referee calling an end to the encounter.
Despite a sub-par performance, Neil Young can be pleased with his sides ability to grind out the result.
He said: “It wasn’t our best performance in recent weeks, but again the lads have found a way.
“Owen Watkinson missed the game and James Joyce came off at half time, that’s two big players for us. But the players in this squad have shown that they can get games won.
“In general, the lads have worked really hard, Neil Kengni’s had a couple of opportunities and the ‘keeper’s made two good saves.
“We’ll now take stock at training on Thursday and prepare for a very big game against Atherton Colleries away on Saturday.”
Marine line up: Passant, Hayde, Joyce (Solomon-Davies), Howarth, Shaw, Devine, Hughes (Lynch), Doyle, Cummins, Barrigan, Kengni