Billingham Synthonia 0 Marske United 2
Marske United manager Carl Jarrett opted to retain the 4-3-3 formation that earned the team a hard fought point at Morpeth on Wednesday night but opted for a change of personnel with Reece Kelly and Josh Macdonald selected to partner Jamie Owens in the front three. This meant Danny Brunskill and Jonathan Wright dropped to a strong looking bench alongside Tom Bott, Sam Garvie and the fit again Stephen Gibson. Synners lined up with ex-Marske striker John Alexander partnering goal machine Michael Sweet who had scored 16 goals in his last 10 games including 5 against both Ashington and Crook. Marske had their first shot on target as early as the opening minute when Craig Gott and Macdonald exchanged passes but Macdonald’s shot with his weaker left foot was easily saved by Peter Burke. The home side’s first chance arrived in the 11th minute when Sweet broke the offside trap with a nicely timed run but Darren Hollingsworth did magnificently to get back and make a perfectly timed tackle and the ball ended up in the arms of Marske keeper Robert Dean. A minute later referee Shane Sugden adjudged that Hollingsworth had tugged the shirt of Sweet, despite the assistant referee being better placed to give the decision. Hollingsworth was warned by the referee but no further action was taken. The free kick, from 5 yards outside the box, was taken by Matthew Osmond but Dean saved with ease. On the quarter hour the away team took the lead when Gott curled a superb ball into the path of the advancing Macdonald who calmly lobbed the ball over the stranded Burke and into the net. Buoyed by the early goal Marske went in search of a second and Kelly showed great skill to set Owens clear and Marske’s top scorer turned the Synners defender and advanced into the box; however, on his weaker right foot the shot was easily saved by Burke. From the resulting corner, the delivery was too deep and was retrieved by Hollingsworth who played the ball back to Gott who saw his cross dropped by Burke and the ball fell at the feet of Wheatley who hooked the ball just wide of the goal. With 10 minutes to half time Macdonald fouled Kris Hughes and the free kick from the left from Hughes dropped to the feet of ex-Marske man Tom Marron but the shot went well over the bar. On 38 minutes a throw in from Josh Myers to the feet of Owens saw Owens lay the ball off to Glen Butterworth but his shot went comfortably wide. A minute later, Synners were awarded a free kick when Wheatley was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball but a chipped set piece from Hughes was headed wide by Josh Rowbotham. With half time approaching the home side had cause to be critical of the referee when Marske were awarded a free kick for a foul by Daniel Rowbotham on Kelly. Butterworth’s low free kick fell to Gott at the back post and Burke did well to save the Marske skipper’s deflected shot. With a minute until half time Macdonald beat his defender and his pull back to Owens saw the Marske striker’s, on his favoured left foot, saved by Burke. In the second minute of injury time in the first half Kelly raced into the box and was denied by a quite magnificent tackle by Rowbotham. If the tackle had been mistimed it would have been a certain penalty for Marske. The last chance of the half fell to the home side but Alexander’s header from a long throw went wide of Dean’s right hand post.
Half Time: Billingham Synthonia 0 Marske 1
Within 2 minutes of the re-start there was a moment of drama when Macdonald showed electric pace to race past left back Dan Rowbotham and the Synners defender dragged the Marske man to the ground. Referee Sugden waved play on but the assistant referee was flagging frantically and indicated that Macdonald had had his shirt pulled. The referee went over to speak to his assistant and a penalty was awarded. The normally reliable Gott stepped up to take the spot kick but his penalty was too close to Burke who saved and then pounced on the loose ball. On 50 minutes, the home side were forced into their first change when Rowbotham, who appeared to get injured in his tussle with Macdonald moments earlier, was replaced by Ross McNab. On the hour mark, Marske made their first change with Kelly replaced by Sam Garvie. It took only 2 minutes for Garvie to get into the action when Garvie, played onside by Josh Rowbotham, latched on to a pinpoint pass from Owens; Garvie’s first cross was blocked by Rowbotham but the ball fell to the feet of Garvie who this time made no mistake with his cross to the back post that was met by Macdonald at the back post who slid the ball home to double Marske’s lead. With the cushion of a second goal Marske stepped up a gear and a flowing move, on 65 minutes, which involved Garvie, Butterworth, Macdonald and Gott ended with a Gott pass to Owens on the edge of the box but his shot went well over the bar. Two minutes later a corner from Macdonald was played out to Gott, 25 yards from goal, and the ensuing shot took a slight deflection and went inches wide of Burke’s goal. From the next corner Synners tried to break quickly and Austin Johnston fouled Robbie Bettson and was shown a yellow card. With 17 minutes remaining Marske made a double change with Johnston and Owens replaced by Brunskill and Wright which allowed Marske to return to a 4-4-2 formation. Brunksill was straight into the action a minute later when Garvie squared the ball to him but his shot from 25yards went just over the bar. On 77 minutes Wheatley conceded another free kick and the delivery from Ross Gardner was hooked just wide by Josh Rowbotham. Two minutes later Wright was fouled by Rowbotham as he was breaking clear but again the referee decided to take no action when a yellow card seemed the obvious decision. With 10 minutes remaining the home side made their second change with Marron, who had disappointed replaced by Joe Carter. A minute later Brunskill showed great vision to hook the ball into the path of Garvie who raced clear and one on one with Burke but the keeper did superbly to block his shot. On 81 minutes Brunskill became the second Marske player to be booked for fouling Bettson before a long throw from Liam O’Sullivan wasn’t dealt with by the home defence and the ball dropped to Garvie who saw his prodded shot easily saved by Burke. With time running out Alexander won a free kick 25 yards from goal following a theatrical dive after a challenge from Wheatley. The free kick from Hughes was weak and Dean saved with ease. With 5 minutes left on the clock Synners made their final change with Michael Woodhouse replacing Alexander before a cynical foul from Osmond on Wright on half-way as Marske tried to break saw the Synners man enter the referee’s notebook. The ensuing free kick from Gott was headed back across goal by Wheatley and Wright controlled the ball and turned neatly but his shot was well saved by Burke. As the clock hit 90 minutes Dean saved well from Sweet who outpaced Hollingsworth but Marske held out and kept their second clean sheet in the last three games to move into 3rd place in the table.
Full Time: Billingham Synthonia 0 Marske United 2
Billingham Synthonia: Burke, Gardner, D. Rowbotham (McNab), Osmond, Abel, J. Rowbotham(c), Bettson, Marron (Carter), Sweet, Alexander (Woodhouse), Hughes
Subs not used: Olabode, Briggs
Marske: Dean, Myers, O’Sullivan, Johnston (Wright), Hollingsworth, Wheatley, Macdonald, Gott(c), Butterworth, Owens (Brunskill), Kelly (Garvie)
Subs not used; Gibson, Bott
In the end this was a comfortable win for Marske against a Synners team that are battling relegation but fought hard throughout the 90 minutes. With North Shields in FA Vase action 5 of the top 6 were in action and all were away from home so it was odds on that at least one of them would drop points and so it proved with both West Auckland and Dunston being held to goalless draws against Bedlington and Durham respectively. The big winners on the day were Marske’s local rivals, Guisborough, who squeezed past Whitley Bay 2-1 to return to the top of the table. Next up for Marske is a double header against Sunderland RCA, at home on Saturday 28th and away the following Tuesday. By next Saturday Marske are likely to be 6 points behind their local rivals who entertain Crook this Wednesday.