First half goals from James Barrigan and George Newell see Marine close the gap to at the top to one point, as they defeat Trafford 2-0.
James Devine replaced the injured Mark Howarth in defence, while Niall Cummins and George Newell also returned to the starting line-up in attack. Goalkeeper Bayleigh Passant started between the sticks, replacing Aidan Dowling.
James Barrigan had the first half chance of the game, firing well over the crossbar with his right footed strike from the edge of the area.
However, Barrigan did manage to break the deadlock eight minutes later, picking his spot from 25 yards and drilling an effort into the bottom right corner. The goal was Barrigan’s seventh in the NPL West this season, in what has been a great season individually for the versatile midfielder.
Passant was called into action from a Trafford free kick, but Matty Morgan’s strike was claimed gratefully by the Marine stopper.
George Newell doubled the Mariners’ lead in the 36th minute, with what was a repeat of the first goal.
Trafford ‘keeper Matt Cooper failed to clear his lines from the back, with Ryan Wignall picking up the loose ball around 25 yards from goal. Under pressure from a Trafford defender, the midfielder laid the ball off for Newell, whose driven effort nestled in the bottom left corner.
Just before half time, Jack Sloan came close to pulling one back for Trafford, but his strike was saved excellently at the near post by Marine’s returning goalkeeper.
At the break, Neil Young would have been very satisfied with his team’s performance, limiting the opposition to just the one half chance which was saved well, plus taking advantage of their possessional dominance by establishing a two-goal lead.
Into the second half and Dean Winnard had a golden opportunity to score in back-to-back games, but the centre half could not sort out his feet in time from inside the six-yard box.
Once more Marine should have made it 3-0, as Wignall raced forward down the inside right channel, before squaring the ball to Niall Cummins, but the Lilywhites’ captain could not make a lethal connection to the low cross.
In terms of goal scoring opportunities, the match went on to lack until the final whistle, but the competitive edge to the game remained, as both sides committed to a number of full-blooded challenges.
After multiple blows to the head that left him bleeding from the mouth, Trafford’s Ben Finley was forced to leave the field, despite being substituted on in the second half, meaning Trafford had to finish the game with 10 men.
Referee Matt Archibald’s full time whistle called an end to what was an encouraging performance from Marine, as they extend their unbeaten run to five, with four wins in that sequence.
Next up for Marine is a tricky visit from Clitheroe, who defeated a nine-man Marine side back in September.
Marine: Passant, Hayde (Solomon-Davies), Barrigan, Devine, White, Winnard, Newell (Hughes), Doyle, Cummins, Wignall, Kengni