Ralph Rands reports from Borough Park as hard-fought FA Cup tie results in MTA replay…

Marine and Workington live to fight another day following this Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round draw at Borough Park on Saturday afternoon.

Having famously reached the 3rd Round last season the Mariners couldn’t have been handed a more difficult test at this stage of the competition, travelling to a venue where victories have been difficult to come by over the years.

Manger Neil Young made two changes to the team which impressively won at Ramsbottom in midweek, James Devine coming in for Ben Roberts with James Joyce replacing Niall Cummins who was suspended following his dismissal at Newcastle Town on the opening day.

The first half was, as expected, an evenly contested affair as both sides struggled for supremacy. The Mariners’ attacking triumvirate came closest in the early stages as Owen Watkinson found Neil Kengni whose low cross from the left reached Ben Hughes. The ex-Sheffield Wednesday striker beat his man to the ball at the near post but steered his first-time effort a yard wide of target.

Hughes then found a yard of space just inside the Workington area but saw his well-struck right-footed drive clear the home crossbar.

The home side’s first sight of goal came through Bowman who dragged a tame shot well wide from the edge of the area, before the same player fired a daisy-cutter straight at Bayleigh Passant from 22 yards which the Marine ‘keeper held comfortably.

The banana-bedecked Passant then made a good parry from Carroll’s dipping left-footed strike, before the Reds earned on a corner down their right which was headed onto the roof of the Marine net by centre-back Smith, as the home side grew into the game.

A minute before the break a James Devine free-kick from halfway fell to Watkinson with his back to goal and as the young striker swivelled he was upended by a clumsy challenge from veteran defender Wordsworth, referee Archibald pointing to the spot. James Barrigan stepped up and confidently fired straight down the middle as home custodian Eccles dived away to his left to give the Mariners the advantage at the interval.

If the Mariners had edged the first half then the Reds certainly had the better of the second as the game wore on. They found their equaliser four minutes after the restart, following an extended spell of possession afforded them as the blue-shirted Mariners dropped off and failed to make a telling challenge. A ball into Bowman’s feet on the edge of the area was cushioned into the path of Allison, Workington’s record scorer burying a left-footed finish into the opposite corner to the delight of the home contingent in the 600-strong crowd.

Passant had to make a smart save diving to his left to deny Clarke’s well-struck 20-yarder, before Kengni teed-up Alex Doyle at the other end, the young midfielder’s first-time strike arrowing just the wrong side of Eccles’ right-hand post from a Marine perspective.

Home skipper Tinion’s curling effort was pushed away by the alert Passant with the Mariners countering as David Lynch’s well-weighted pass put Kengni in behind the home rearguard but Eccles was quickly off his line to deny the Marine winger with a smart block.

A rare lapse from Passant then allowed Allison a chance for his second of the afternoon, but on his weaker right-foot Allison could only send a looping effort high over the bar. In the closing stages the home side looked the more likely to grab a winner, but despite a couple of free-kicks played into the Marine box from deep, the boys in blue defended stoutly to earn a replay as they look to embark on another epic Cup run.

Marine: Passant, Devine (Shaw 90), Joyce, Lynch (Reilly 85), Miley (c), Raven, Watkinson, Doyle, Barrigan, Hughes (Wignall 81), Kengni.

Unused subs: Murphy, Mendes.

Scorer: Barrigan (pen. 44)

Attendance: 601

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