Evo-Stik Northern Premier League


Carney (15), Doyle (57), Murray (87)

Hednesford Town

King (36)

(1) 3

(1) 1



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Dan Cockerline



Grantham Town (A) 2.10.18

The Pitmen fail to follow up their excellent win over Rugby in last week's F.A. Cup tie with a poor, weak second-half display at Marine this afternoon, crashing to their second successive away defeat in the Evo-Stik Premier League to leave them languishing down in fifteenth place


Having earned themselves an away tie against Kettering Town next weekend in the third qualifying round of the F.A. Cup and the chance to add another £15,000 to the coffers, manager Rob Smith made two changes to the side that had had a full week to recover from its various knocks and injuries. Josh Craddock and Sam Griffiths were the pair who missed out, with Reece King and Callam Mendez-Jones making a return to the side to replace them in their respective positions. Charlie Gatter was still unavailable for selection due to a long-standing injury and joined Craddock and Griffiths on the sidelines


Marine had made a poor start to the new season, languishing in the relegation spots early on which saw the resignation of the experienced Tommy Lawson a fortnight ago. The Merseysiders had moved quickly to make the experienced Neil Young their new manager, with the former Chester, Stockport and Altrincham manager remaining unbeaten in his first two games at the helm as he looked to reverse the side's fortunes. Young had been busy in the transfer market since arriving at the club, bringing in Steve Irwin from Stalybridge Celtic and Finlay Sinclair-Smith on loan from Blackpool. Both players were named in Young's starting line-up as he went searching for his first home win in the Evo-Stik League since taking over


The Pitmen suffered a blow before they had even arrived in Liverpool, with a dreadful journey punctuated with constant traffic and roadwork issues meaning that they arrived late at the Marine Travel Arena and delayed the kick-off by fifteen minutes. When the game finally started, both sides were presented with an excellent surface and a bright, sunny day to ensure neither side had an excuse not to play a neat, passing game


Marine tested the Pitmen's resolve with an early half-chance for skipper Danny Mitchley in the third minute as he turned Dom Reid's knock-down over the crossbar from fifteen yards out


Slack defending from the visitors down the left-hand side allowed right-back James Short all the time in the world to pick out Reid in the eighth minute, with the striker sidefooting his effort over the crossbar from eight yards out. Another warning for the Hednesford defence 


It was a warning they failed to heed on fifteen minutes, as another move down the right-hand side from Marine created the opening goal of the game for Craig Carney. Irwin linked up with Short to outnumber Nathan Fox before Short played the ball into the feet of Mitchley. His initial shot was blocked by Stefan Galinski, but the rebound fell kindly to midfielder Carney, who swept the ball past Josef Bursik with a great first-time shot from ten yards out


Stung by the goal, the away side finally started to get hold of the ball after a poor opening fifteen minutes from them. A great cross from Mendez-Jones somehow failed to reach Cockerline, who stretched to reach the cross but missed my a matter of inches


On twenty-five minutes, Matt Curley's deep cross from the right was headed home by Galinski, but his first goal for the Pitmen continued as his effort was disallowed for a push on Mitchley as the pair rose to meet the ball on the edge of the Marine six-yard bix


A quick break from Marine almost caught the Pitmen out on thirty minutes, as Irwin exchanged passes with Sinclair-Smith before driving his shot straight into the grateful arms of Bursik from twelve yards out


More neat play from the hosts threatened to open up the Pitmen once more on thirty-two minutes, with Liam Hynes firing wide of goal after the Hednesford midfield had allowed him time and space to size up his shot


A dipping effort from Jed Davies failed to test Martin Fearon in the Marine goal a minute later before a great run from Dodd saw him drift past three Marine defenders and earn the visitors a corner kick. From the resultant set-piece, Davies played a short pass to Curley, whose first-time cross was headed just wide by King as the midfielder did well to turn the ball goalwards from fifteen yards out


The Pitmen were dealt yet another fitness blow on thirty-six minutes, as Dodd was forced off after picking up an injury. On-loan Michael Howard came on in the winger's place, with Lewis Archer switching flanks to allow Howard to play on the left side of the front three


 Cockerline's persistence won the Pitmen another corner kick after the game restarted, with King alert to Davies's inswinging kick to powerfully head home the equalising goal, despite Fearon's best efforts to keep the ball out


The Pitmen didn't really want the first half to end at this point, as they pushed forward in search of a second goal towards the end of the period. Cockerline's excellent touch played Howard in on goal on forty minutes, but the substitute dragged his shot well wide of goal from the edge of the Marine penalty area


Two minutes later, more excellent hold-up play from Cockerline saw him slip the ball into the path of Curley, whose rising shot cleared the crossbar from long-range


The Pitmen will have been pleased with their efforts in getting back on level terms and finishing the half strongly, but this was all to be undone with a very poor second half showing that once again highlighted the fragility of the side in places, particularly in midfield and in taking the few chances when they come


After initially starting brightly in keeping the ball in the opening minutes of the half, Hednesford lost their momentum as Marine pushed them back into their own third. Bursik made a simple save to claim Reid's bobbling shot on fifty minutes, before making another comfortable save three minutes later to field a Kenny Strickland free-kick


The home side restored their lead on fifty-seven minutes through Chris Doyle, who was given far too much time and space on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area to fire home after Danny Shaw had headed down a deep free-kick into the defender's path. A poor goal to concede and question marks over the marking from the men in red


Heads started to drop, shoulders started to drop and errors crept into Hednesford's game, with a lazy clearance from Galinski on the hour mark gifting the ball to Sinclair-Smith. His pass to Carney saw the goalscorer go close to adding to his tally with a swerving shot that dipped just past the left-hand post


The best the Pitmen could produce was a header over the crossbar from Cockerline on sixty-two minutes, rising highest to meet Fox's cross but failing to keep his effort down


The Pitmen made their second change of the afternoon on sixty-five minutes, with Sam Grimshaw coming on to replace the disappointing Archer down the wing


This was swiftly followed a few moments later with the visitors' third and final change of the game with the introduction of Charley Edge for Fox, who had had arguably his poorest game for the club since arriving in the summer


Howard did well to test Fearon at his near post on seventy minutes, latching onto a through ball from Davies that took him wide of goal, but a low shot kept Fearon on his toes to make a fine low stop


 Cockerline - the pick of the Pitmen's  underperforming side on a poor afternoon all-round - tested Fearon once again on seventy-nine minutes with a low shot that had the Marine stopper scrambling to reach the ball down to his left-hand side


Mitchley was still in the hunt for his goal, with the striker lifting an effort just over Bursik's crossbar on eighty minutes with a snap-shot from the edge of the Hednesford penalty area


A comedy of errors in the Hednesford defence handed Marine all three points with three minutes remaining, as Edge failed to cut out a long ball forwards from Fearon, allowing Mitchley to force his way past Galinski and lob the ball goalwards. Bursik did well to get a touch on the ball but only succeeded in diverting the ball into the path of substitute James Murray, who did well to steady himself after Mendez-Jones had comically missed the ball and slot into the empty net from close range to seal the win for the hosts


Another poor away day at Marine's home ground for the Pitmen, who have now lost three times in three seasons on the same ground and all playing the same brand of poor football, allowing them to be picked off once again by people with more know-how and willing to want the ball more. Another tough away game follows for Smith's downbeat side on Tuesday night, with a long trip to Grantham Town in the offing as Hednesford look to return to winning ways on the road


Marine: Fearon, Strickland, Short, Shaw, Doyle, Hynes, Sinclair-Smith (Hine 74), Irwin (Joyce 71), Mitchley ©, Reid, Carney (Murray 80)     Subs Unused: Donaldson, Mendes


HednesfordTown: Bursik, Curley, Fox ▆ (Edge 69), Fitzpatrick, Galinski © MendezJones, Dodd (Howard 36), King, Cockerline, Davies Archer  (Grimshaw 65) Subs Unused: Hollis, Veiga

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