Lions Suffer Setback At Marine

The Lions were edged out in a tense and often scrappy affair by a 78th minute Bobby Grant winner, writes Ivor Timmis.

Luke Marriette returned to replace the suspended Leigh Whelan while Michael Afuye came in at the expense of Kofi Moore and Jordi Nsaka replaced the injured Reece Kendall.

Marine started the stronger ; applying a high press they won the ball back in the Guiseley defensive third three or four times, though the defence ultimately held firm. Marine were playing a more direct game than they have in our last few encounters and made full use of Freddie Sass’ long flat throw, sometimes opting for it just inside the Guiseley half.

The Lions coped well with this threat and began to grow into the game after 20 minutes. Nsaka got to the byline but his inviting cross found no takers.

On 25 minutes, Liam Tongue played a great ball inside the full back to Afuye whose cross was just too high for Gabriel Johnson in the six yard box.

At the other end, Jameel Ible made a brilliant block at the near post to keep out a powerful shot by Josh Wardle. Moments later Harvey Gregson made a late run to beat the offside trap and rattled the bar with a fierce drive.

Just before half time, Ollie Battersby made a fine save at his near post. A chance fell to Kallan Murphy when the keeper scuffed his kick, but, under pressure from two defenders, he was unable to direct his long range effort on target as Bobby Jones retreated. When half time arrived, the consensus among the Guiseley fans was that Marine had shaded it, but as Andy Thomas put it post match, the Lions had ‘weathered the storm’.

The Lions were stronger in the second half, enjoying a bit more possession and carrying more threat. On 50 minutes Johnson tricked his way to the byline but Prince Ekpolo was blocked out as he tried to get on the resulting cross. Probably the best Guiseley chance of the game fell to Tongue on the 55th minute. A poor pass across the Marine back four put the skipper through in the area, but his first left foot shot was well blocked by a defender and the second well saved at close range by Jones.

At the other end, Ible again made an excellent block from a powerful close range volley by Wardle after a long throw.

Tom Denton replaced Afuye on 76 minutes and shortly after there was an almighty scramble from a corner in the Marine area but the Lions couldn’t force the ball over.

The 78th minute saw the killer blow: a long clearance fell to Grant at least 35 yards out from goal. Spotting Battersby off his line, he took one touch and then measured a perfect lob which the backpedalling Lions stopper couldn’t keep out.

From the Lions’ point of view, the most disappointing aspect of the match was that, despite the late introduction of Kofi Moore and Adam Dawson, they failed to exert any kind of pressure in the search for an equaliser, barely laying a glove on the physically imposing Marine defence in the last 15 minutes, which Marine saw out with ease.

It was a setback not a disaster. The Lions remain in the play-off mix and have a chance to recover ground at Whitby on Tuesday.

Marine 1-0 Guiseley | Saturday 16th March 2024 | Marine Travel Arena

Attendance: 1463

Team: 1. Ollie Battersby, 2. Ollie Brown, 3. Jordi Nsaka, 4. Prince Ekpolo, 5. Aiden Walker, 6. Jameel Ible, 7. Michael Afuye (76′ Denton), 8. Liam Tongue (C), 9. Kallan Murphy (83′ Dawson), 10. Gabriel Johnson and 11. Luke Mariette (83′ Moore).

Subs: 12. Adam Dawson, 13. Hagie Damba (GK), 14. Kofi Moore, 15. Tom Denton and 16. Josh Ashman.

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