Mariners pay penalty in opening day defeat on Tyneside…
An own goal and an 82nd minute penalty condemned Marine to a disappointing opening day defeat at Dunston on Saturday afternoon.
Manager Neil Young made four changes to the side which started against Barnoldswick in the FA Cup last weekend, Germano Mendes replacing the suspended Bayleigh Passant in goal, James Joyce and James Barrigan operating down the left flank, whilst on-loan Salford City youngster Alex Doyle made his debut in central midfield.
Previous encounters between Marine and Dunston have proved tight affairs, the winning team on each occasion only prevailing by a margin of one goal, and this game was similarly well-contested by two evenly-matched sides.
The first half saw a dearth of scoring opportunities created, although there was no shortage of industry displayed by both sets of players on a pleasant day in the North-East.
The homesters’ best moments came from their left, Germano Mendes being called upon to deal with several threatening crosses, whilst the Marine defence made a number of blocks to ensure that the Mariners’ stopper didn’t have a save of note to make in the first half. Galbraith’s venomous strike from distance was as close as Dunston came in the opening period, as it flew a couple of yards wide of Mendes’ left-hand upright.
The Mariners suggested a greater early attacking threat than their hosts, without unduly troubling home custodian Connell.
Marine did spurn a good chance to take the lead on the half-hour mark however, a low ball in from the left following a corner evading Anthony Miley and Neil Kengi whose paths crossed to their detriment, the loose ball reaching Niall Cummins whose shot cleared the home crossbar by a couple of feet.
The Mariners’ opening goal of the season arrived five minutes before the break, somewhat out of the blue. An aerial ball forward was headed by the home defence as far as captain Cummins, the veteran striker using his left foot to send a delightful volley from 22 yards arcing over and beyond Connell’s despairing reach and into the top corner.
All was well at the interval in black and gold, however the early stages of the second half saw the blues of Dunston up their game and look a much more threatening side than in the first period.
The home side’s impressive right-back Mouanda produced a couple of telling runs and dangerous crosses without reward, whilst the Marine rearguard were placed under increasing pressure.
The equalising goal came shortly after the hour mark, home midfielder Stafford’s thunderous volley from distance beating Mendes but not his crossbar as the ball cannoned into the air, however Dunston striker Fitzpatrick reacted quicker than the Marine rearguard to square the dropping ball which found its way into the net via the retreating Joyce’s boot.
The home made changes to introduce fresh legs in their pursuit of a winning goal, whilst Kenny Strickland and another Salford loanee Mo Touray entered the fray, replacing Joyce and Kengni respectively.
Marine subsequently enjoyed a good spell of pressure as the game headed toward the final ten minutes, Touray in particular causing the home defence problems with his trickery and pace.
Cummins had strong claims for a penalty waved away by the referee, the striker tumbling in the box under a clumsy challenge from Dunston’s centre-back, vehement protests from the Marine players and bench being ignored by the arbiter.
Almost predictably, at least to the travelling Marine support, the game’s decisive moment occurred just a couple of minutes later, as Dunston sub Thear initially appeared to have been thwarted by the Marine defence, but then burst between defenders and was tripped just inside the penalty area, the referee having no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Ex-Darlington left-back Galbraith stepped up to fire home from 12 yards into the corner of the net to give his side an 82nd minute lead.
Marine responded and Touray was unfortunate to see his low drive deflected a yard wide of target by an outstretched Dunston limb, the resultant corner ending with Cummins’ ambitious overhead attempt clearing the bar by a similar distance.
A through-ball from midfield allowed Touray to advance beyond the Dunston back-line and in on goal, however Connell raced off his line to produce a fine block to deny the young striker and further frustrate the Mariners.
Manager Young introduced Mikey Howard in the closing stages in a final roll of the dice, and the ex-Morecambe winger almost created a dramatic equaliser in added time.
Howard and James Devine combined well on the right flank for Howard to send a low tantalising centre across the face of goal, however the ball eluded the outstretched legs of Touray and the onrushing Adam Hughes by inches in the final action of note.
To cap a disappointing and frustrating day for Marine, Mendes received a red card following the final whistle for comments made to the referee.
Marine are in cup action in their next two fixtures, travelling to Frickley on Tuesday evening in the Emirates FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round, before completing a week of lengthy journeys with a trip to Tadcaster on Saturday in the FA Trophy Preliminary Round.
Marine: Germano Mendes, James Devine, James Joyce (Kenny Strickland 70), Adam Hughes, Anthony Miley, David Raven, James Barrigan, Alex Doyle (Mikey Howard 84), Niall Cummins (c), Josh Hmami, Neil Kengni (Mo Touray 70).
Unused subs: James Ellison, Ryan Wignall.
Dunston: Liam Connell, Ursene Mouanda, Terry Galbraith, Daniel Capewell, Michael Hall, Craig Scott (c), Jake Stafford, Luke Page, Mark Fitzpatrick (Liam Thear 68), Scott Heslop (Liam Brooks 64), Jack Elliott (Callum Elliot 85).
Unused subs: Daniel Halliday, Andy Clark.
Goals: Marine; Cummins (40)
Dunston: og (62), Galbraith (pen 82).
Referee: Derek Burrows