Setback has Mariners back down to earth
MARINE fell to a home defeat in the Bank Holiday clash with Warrington Town at the Marine Travel Arena in a game which was much more closely-contested than the final scoreline suggests.
The Mariners’ starting XI remained unchanged as they sought their third win in seven days, but the visitors certainly deserved their victory, clinically taking their chances to punish Tommy Lawson’s side at every opportunity.
The opening exchanges provided little in the way of goalmouth action as the two teams battled for early supremacy.
The Mariners managed the first sight of goal on 11 minutes as Danny Mitchley forced a corner which Vinny Bailey swung over from the left.
Adam Hughes connected with a header from eight yards which was directed straight at Town goalkeeper Tony McMillan who held securely.
Warrington threatened five minutes later as a low free-kick from their left evaded veteran striker Tony Gray’s run, the ball rolling a yard wide of the far post to the Mariners’ relief.
James Murray’s bright start to the season continued as he showed pace to win his side another flag-kick on the left.
Bailey’s delivery this time saw McMillan come off his line but failing to collect. The keeper’s blushes were spared as Michael Grogan’s header dropped a yard over the Crosender Road bar.
Wire winger Connor Hughes then stole a yard on Peter Wylie and advanced into the box towards the byline. But rather than crossing for Gray, the exWorcester man took a tumble as Wylie recovered, referee Lewis Smith rightly waving away Hughes’ appeals for a spotkick but failing to caution the wide man for simulation.
Town’s next view of the target came from a free-kick 25 yards out which Sean Williams curled around the Marine wall but Ben Barnes was well-positioned to make a routine save.
On the half-hour, left-back Rory McKeown’s misdirected header allowed Mitchley to hit a sweetly-struck half-volley from the right side of the area which brought a flying parry from McMillan, the Town defence able to clear to safety.
An evenly-contested opening third of the game was punctuated on 33 minutes as the lively Dylan Vassallo forced a corner on the Warrington right. The ball was played deep beyond the far post for Phil Baker to volley back across the box, setting up former Chorley striker Josh Hine to sidefoot home from six yards.
The Mariners sought to respond quickly and were unfortunate four minutes later as Mitchley held the ball up well before finding Bailey. The midfielder’s curling low effort from 22 yards beat McMillan but not the post while Scott Bakkor was unable to force the rebound home as a Town defender made a vital block on the ball.
The ebb and flow continued as Hughes troubled the home rearguard once again, this time maintaining his balance to step inside a challenge and roll the ball past Barnes as the goalkeeper advanced. However, James Short’s alert defending saw him make a timely intervention as he raced back to clear off the line and prevent a second Town goal.
Three minutes before the break the Mariners were dealt a blow as another poor header in the visiting defence gifted Mitchley a shooting opportunity, the home skipper volleying high and wide from 25 yards before unfortunately limping out of the action to be replaced by George Hassall.
In first half stoppage time Hine’s trickery won his side a corner on their right, the delivery of which somehow evaded everyone as it flew across the six-yard box. Ex-Mariner Liam Goulding retrieved the ball beyond the far post and sent in a cross which Barnes palmed to the edge of the box, Williams’ sweetlystruck volley flying a yard or two wide of target as Warrington led by the solitary goal at the break.
Five minutes into the second period the Whites created a half-chance to level matters as a ball into the Town box saw Billy Smart win an aerial challenge, the ball dropping for Michael Brewster on the edge of the ‘D’ but the midfielder screwed his left-footed shot tamely wide.
The visitors’ tactics were apparent as they were sat noticeably deeper than in the opening period, inviting Marine onto them and looking to break quickly. With another former Mariner, Paul Carden, at the helm, the Yellows’ plan proved effective and just before the hour a rapid counter-attack saw Hughes advance and his well-struck low shot swerve inches wide of Barnes’s left-hand upright.
On 62 minutes the visitors duly doubled their advantage as Hughes was tripped by Barnes as he broke into the Marine area, the goalkeeper being cautioned for the foul before Williams slotted home the resulting spot-kick despite Barnes guessing correctly.
Warrington’s third goal arrived six minutes later through another quick counter, a poor pass in midfield gifting the visitors possession before a ball down the middle allowed Hughes to go one-on-one with Barnes, the Town man defying gravity in fine style to slot home with the minimum of fuss.
The Whites sought a consolation as the game entered the final 10 minutes as Murray, who was his side’s brightest performer on the day, took on McKeown before cutting inside and firing in a daisy-cutter from just outside the box which McMillan held securely.
However it was Wire who added to their tally with a fourth goal of the afternoon eight minutes from time. Yet another ex-Mariner in the form of substitute Joe Mwasile showed his attacking ambition and cashed in as he beat Wylie on the left side of the box, the Marine right-back tugging Mwasile’s shirt and referee Smith awarding the second spotkick of the contest. Williams dispatched the opportunity from 12 yards with aplomb, giving Barnes no chance.
Substitute James Edgar’s well-struck shot from 25 yards was hoovered up by McMillan at the second attempt as time elapsed, Warrington running out worthy winners to go top of the table after the first month of action.
The Mariners now turn their attention to the Emirates FA Cup as they entertain Ashton United in the first qualifying round at the Marine Travel Arena on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Barnes, Wylie, Short, Hughes, Grogan, Smart, Bakkor (Edgar 54), Brewster, Mitchley (Hassall 44), Bailey, Murray. Subs (not used): Strickland, Shaw, Kisimba.
McMillan, Goulding, McKeown, Richards, McCarten, Baker, Hine, Williams, Gray (Kinsella 83), Vassallo (Sanogo 78), Hughes (Mwasile 74). Subs (not used): Carden, Ashcroft.
James Murray (far left) watches his tremendous volley (inset) fly into the Stourbridge net to help Marine earn a 2-0 victory last Saturday afternoon – see match report below.