Jack Hatton reports as Mariners enjoy winning start to New Year…
Marine got back to winning ways after a hard-fought 1-0 away victory against Prescot Cables at the IP Truck Parts Stadium.
A smart finish by top-scorer Neil Kengni was the decisive moment in the second local derby in as many games.
With Neil Young’s squad still marred by injuries and illness, it was a tightly contested game against Cables who were floating just above the relegation places and were probably the happier of the two sides with little less than ten minutes to go.
The home side started brightly, but it was the Mariners who had the biggest chances in the opening stages.
The first came as Kengni, playing in an unfamiliar role as left wing-back, won it high up the pitch and fizzed in a low-driven ball towards Ryan Wignall but he couldn’t convert his side-footed effort.
Little more than ten minutes later, Kengni again won it high up the pitch and this time found George Newell. He managed to turn and get a shot away but blasted the arm of the sliding defender leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot.
James Barrigan stepped up to take, but his low effort was saved by Mitchell Allen in Prescot’s goal.
It was a scrappy remainder of the half with a flurry of half-chances for the home side. The referee was kept busy with lots of contentious challenges disrupting the flow of the game, both sides offering little in front of goal.
However, just before the interval the deadlock was close to being broken. After a sustained attack, Cables struggled to clear their lines and the ball eventually fell to Barrigan. With time to take it under his control and elegantly curl a left-footed shot, it looked certain he would compensate for his earlier penalty miss but Allen met it with a defiant right hand to keep the score level.
It was much of the same after the break with clear-cut chances coming at a premium for both sides, but it was the home side looking poised to reduce the deficit.
Cables right-back George Nugent embarked on a menacing run from right back, weaving through the blue-shirted defenders and managing to get a shot away which smashed against the post. It ricocheted straight to Taylor Brickell’s feet on the penalty spot but the attacker’s acrobatic effort was deflected away.
Just six minutes later it was the home side who looked most threatening to get the opening goal of the game. Bayleigh Passant, who was rarely tested looked to make a routine catch from a free kick but the ball escaped his grasp gifting Sam O’Halleron an opportunity, however he was unable to convert it.
Neil Young made a couple of tactical switches, most notably moving talisman Kengni higher up the pitch to create more chances and Lewis Reilly being introduced to link up with the pacy striker.
Then, with seven minutes to go, the deadlock was finally broken. Newell chested into the path of Reilly who looped the ball over the defence to find Kengni in full stride, sending it across the keeper with a clinical finish in the bottom corner to keep Marine’s lead at the top at four points.
Marine: Passant, Solomon-Davies, Lynch (Devine 55), Howarth, Winnard, Teale, Wignall (Hughes 62), Barrigan, Cummins (c) (Reilly 79), Newell, Kengni.
Unused subs: Shaw, McNally.