Stourbridge 2 Marine 2
There was frustration for the Glassboys as Marine recovered from two goals down to earn a precious point in their relegation fight.
After a goalless first half, a quick-fire brace of goals from Drew Canavan and Chris Lait put Stourbridge in the driving seat. However, Lewis Codling’s double strike for the visitors denied the home side the win in what was a good game at the War Memorial Ground.
After Easter Monday’s poor performance in the Black Country Derby at Halesowen, manager Gary Hackett made four changes to his starting line-up. Lewis Solly replaced Dean Coleman in goal, whilst Will Richards returned for Leon Miles in the back line. Tyrone Williams and Josh Morgan-Parker also came in for Luke Benbow and the injured Matt Dodd.
Stourbridge began with some intent, pushing Marine back from the kick-off. There were shouts for a penalty with just 4 minutes played as Morgan-Parker’s shot appeared to be blocked by a hand, whilst 2 minutes later Brian Smikle forced a good save from Matthew Cooper in the visitors’ goal.
Just before the quarter hour mark, Solly had to be alert to deal comfortably with an angled shot from Andy Owens 20 yards out, and as the Glassboys broke quickly Kayelden Brown , leading the line in Benbow’s absence, drove a low shot wide from similar distance. And then five minutes later the same player misdirected a header wide from Luke Connolly’s cross, perhaps being caught a little by surprise as the ball was not cut out by a covering defender.
Smikle did well to rob a defender in the area with 22 minutes played, rolling a pass in to Lait as he was closed down, but Andy Nicholas was alert to clear the danger, and then Morgan-Parker was inches away from getting his head to Canavan’s left wing cross as the half hour approached.
Perhaps relieved not to be behind, Marine started to come into the game more as Stourbridge’s early vigour subsided. There was a double scare for the Glassboys on 34 minutes as Owens got the faintest touch to a ball in from the left and Solly was forced to claw away from under the crossbar, and then from the resulting corner Lloyd Ellams rose highest to power a header goalwards which Canavan, on the line, was on hand to block.
Connolly got forward to try his luck from distance on 38 minutes, but his attempt cleared the bar by some margin, and the final action of the half saw Solly gather Jamie Menagh’s shot from 25 yards with little difficulty.
The second period opened with Marine attempting to take the game to the home side, but it was the Glassboys who again began to exert pressure after that early flourish, and they took the lead with the first real chance of the half on 57 minutes. Picking up a clearance in the centre of the Marine half, Canavan drove at the defence before exchanging passes with Lait and then planting the ball past Cooper from 8 yards.
And it got better still for the Glassboys two minutes later as Lait doubled the advantage. Brown and Smikle combined down the right wing and the latter put in a low cross which Canavan helped on for Lait to bundle home at the far post.
That should have given the Glassboys some breathing space but the two-goal cushion was to last just three further minutes before Codling tried his luck from some 40 yards out and the ball sailed over Solly’s head to give the Mariners a lifeline seemingly out of nothing.
Shaken, the Glassboys began to look jittery at the back. A slip by Broadhurst on 76 minutes let Marine in but James Foley was unable to capitalise, curling his shot well wide of the far post.
But the equaliser wasn’t much longer in coming. Miscommunication between Williams and Chris Knight as Stourbridge attacked gave Marine the chance to clear and the ball out of defence fell for Codling to run on and drive low under Solly to make it 2-2.
By now it was the visitors who looked the most likely to take the spoils but in truth there were few further chances until the closing moments when first substitute Benbow tried an ambitious over-head kick that didn’t clear the bar by too much, and then, with the very last kick of the match, Owens diverted a left-wing cross just wide of the upright despite not appearing to know too much about it.
The point leaves Stourbridge still in 13th place, needing just one more point to guarantee Premier Division football again next season.
Stourbridge: Solly, Canavan, Knight, Richards, Smikle, Williams, Connolly, Broadhurst, Brown, Morgan-Parker (Benbow 83), Lait (Fitzpatrick 73).
Unused substitutes: Quaynor, Hales, Coleman (gk).