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Witton Albion surrender two-goals lead against Marine to suffer second successive Premier Division defeat
WITTON’S start to the season continues to reflect their summer before it; bitty, disjointed and in need of a kick-start.
Albion were better, much better in fact, than in Saturday’s scruffy showing at Buxton but the outcome was the same – defeat to opponents they had exactly where they wanted them.
The ruthlessness that swept this side to a promotion play-offs place in successive seasons is missing, at least for now.
Marine were mauled for the first half hour, sent into a spin by goals – both executed brilliantly – from Josh Hancock and then Danny Andrews.
Yet, after Andy Fowler swept in their first shot on target shortly afterwards, they were not knocked off their feet.
Nor had the Bucks been at the weekend when, on the ropes and teetering at 1-1, they instead delivered a decisive blow of their own.
Witton boss Brian Pritchard will bristle at the fact his players did not respond each time.
Instead, after playing for the first hour with an impressive intensity, they ran out of steam precisely when Marine sprung into life.
The visitors’ catalyst was one of their own; defender Tony Rendell.
He had been thwarted at the other end by Cooper’s fingertip save when, at 2-1 and with less than a half hour left, his was a block that diverted Kyle Wilson’s goal-bound shot with goalkeeper Ryan McMahon a spectator.
The front man, sent clear by Andrews’ clever assist, did nothing wrong.
Faced only with Marine’s net-minder his shot was hit true, yet Rendell reached it in the nick of time.
When the Merseysiders attacked next, impressive attacker Dean Astbury – ushered on by an excellent advantage played by referee Andrew Cawtherley – drilled in a leveller for the visitors.
Buoyed, they found time to threaten a winner before banking one.
First, substitute Michael Monaghan flashed a rising shot narrowly off target before Astbury, again sneaking into a space between Marc Joseph and Josh Glover, was less forgiving when thumping the game’s clinching goal past Cooper shortly afterwards.
The Premier Division is an merciless place this season.
Strange then that Albion had appeared to restore the natural order when racing into a two-goal lead in the first half.
Hancock had already fired off target, anticipating Wilson’s flick-on from Cooper’s long kick, before finding it emphatically on eight minutes.
When Shaun Dowling dithered in possession, the Witton wide man anticipated his intended pass and pinched possession.
In the blink of an eye, the ball nestled in the net’s bottom corner, sent there with power.
The hosts’ second goal had even greater swagger.
This time a long diagonal pass turned defence into attack swiftly as Steve Foster stole in behind Marine’s backline.
He paused to deliver a perfect pass for Andrews to steer – without breaking stride – past a helpless McMahon.
That defenders allowed Fowler to escape their attention, and deliver his own finish with a flourish, gave Marine hope they had been without.
They clung to it initially, a spur for claiming later a merited maximum points haul.
Witton Star Man Oliver James. The captain drove on his side when they were on top, but even he could not quite plug all of the gaps when the hosts became leakier in defence during the game’s final half hour.
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Harrison, Joseph, Glover, Hancock, Platt, James, Andrews (Dawson 86), Foster (Peers 69), Wilson Subs not used Grocott, Purcell, Moseley Goals Hancock 8, Andrews 29
Marine (4-5-1) McMahon (GK), Dowling, Rendell, Shaw, Latham (Lundon 46), Woolcott, Lawton (Ordish 46), Parle, Andy Fowler, Jones (Monaghan 66), Astbury Subs not used Williams (GK), Joe Fowler Goals Andy Fowler 33, Astbury 73, 81 Booked Jones, Rendell, Parle (all fouls), Astbury (removing shirt)
Referee Andrew Cawtherley (Stockport)
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