Captain Hughes the hero for Mariners as he nods home late leveller
Marine 1 Grantham Town 1 ADAM HUGHES’S last minute header salvaged a point for Marine against Grantham Town at the Marine Travel Arena on Saturday.
The Crosby side created the first scoring opportunity as James Short and Michael Brewster showed composure in their own half, Brewster’s ball forward being headed by George Lomax into Vinny Bailey’s path. Bailey advanced and stepped inside a defender’s challenge but could not provide the finish the move merited, his right-footed effort from the edge of the box flying high and wide of target.
Grantham came a whisker away from taking the lead in their first meaningful attack as a ball fed in from their left found midfielder Andy Wright just outside the area, his powerful shot grazing the angle of post and crossbar.
The Gingerbreads continued to threaten down their left flank and a cross saw striker Jordan Hempenstall rise highest but the ex-Brackley forward headed wide of goal.
The Whites were enjoying their share of play in the opening half-hour and James Murray showed tenacity on the right to find Bailey after his initial cross had been blocked, Bailey in turn being denied by a block from a yellow-shirted defender.
On 20 minutes Grantham midfielder Danny Meadows placed a shot a yard wide of Ben Barnes’s left-hand upright after the Marine ‘keeper had punched clear, before the same player came even closer just a minute later. A corner from the Town left saw Meadows rise unchallenged to send a header crashing against the crossbar from 12 yards out, the rebound being cleared as far as Grantham skipper Stefan Galinski whose rising drive from 25 yards cleared the bar.
The Lincolnshire side were now firmly in the ascendancy and made the breakthrough eight minutes before the interval.
The Marine rearguard proved their own worst enemies on this occasion as Barnes and Adam Freeland tried to play out from the back, the Gingerbreads applying pressure and Wright pinched possession, cutting in from the left before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner from the ‘D’.
The Mariners emerged on the front foot after the interval as Brewster found Murray in space, the winger taking a touch but slicing his finish wide of goal from 15 yards.
Marine then spurned a great chance to equalise on 51 minutes as play ebbed and flowed, Short’s cross picking out Bailey who flicked a header from six yards out but which was directed straight at visiting keeper Kieran Preston, the keeper’ parrying at close quarters and the Grantham defence were relieved to clear.
New signing Chris Lomax was introduced in place of Edgar and his cross from the left evaded brother George as he challenged with a defender, the ball taking the onrushing Billy Smart by surprise as it bounced off his thigh at the back-post.
With seven minutes left, the Gingerbreads were reduced to 10-men as substitute centreback Rhys Lewis, who had replaced injured Grantham skipper Galinski, was given his second caution in the space of 15 minutes by referee Nathaneal Cox.
And the Mariners eventually took advantage of the extra player in the final minute of the 90 following a spell of pressure, as Short’s cross was met by Hughes, the home skipper’s header looping over Preston and underneath the crossbar to spark jubilant scenes at the MTA.
The Mariners travel to Cumbria tonight to face Workington in their next Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division fixture (kick-off 7.45pm).