Whitby Town fought back from going 2-0 down in 21 minutes to salvage a deserved share of the spoils at the Turnbull on Saturday after a late strike from Matty Waters.
Player-manager Darren Williams demanded a reaction after Town’s midweek FA Cup exit and he got it, albeit in the second half, of this Evo-Stik NPL encounter.
Williams made four changes from the side that slipped out to Shildon three days earlier. Midfielder Matty Brown, big centre-half Richard Pell, versatile forward Waters and Williams were recalled at the expense of Lee Mason, Lee Bullock, Craig Farrell and Dale Hopson.
The Seasiders almost led inside the first minute as Steven Snaith raced clear but drilled wide of Matthew Cooper’s left-hand post. Moments later, Liam Shepherd’s cross from the edge of the Marine box was diverted across the face of goal and wide by Brown.
Despite a bright start, the Merseysiders could easily have led on four minutes when Dan Fearnehough’s 20-yard snapshot rebounded into the path of Dan Whitehall, with Shane Bland saving well with his legs one-on-one.
Seconds later, Dave McTiernan caught Fearnehough in possession on halfway and released Snaith who curled just wide from the left-edge of the away side’s penalty area.
Waters then found Brown who cut in off the right flank and fired an angled, near-post drive, from six yards, which was blocked low to his left by Cooper. It was somewhat against the run of play when Marine led on 15 minutes.
Kev Burgess headed infield to Pell whose nodded backpass was woefully short and Andy Fowler nipped in ahead of Bland, rounding him before stroking into the empty net.
Six minutes later and the lead was doubled, again it was Pell’s error as he hung out a leg in the box for Fowler to fly over and the ex-Northwich frontman dusted himself off to slot the penalty low to Bland’s left.
However, as the visitors celebrated, Fowler walked to the touchline apparently picking up a knock in the aftermath of the goal and being replaced by Lewis Codling.
Snaith then turned inches over the top from the edge of the Mariners’ box, before Marine had another opportunity, just before the break, when Karl Clair rang the outside of Bland’s left-hand post from similar range.
Early in the second half came another chance for the Crosby club as a driven right-wing corner was steered goalwards by the lively Codling only for Bland to touch wide.
The next goal was always going to be crucial and so it proved as Town grabbed it with over half an hour remaining. Shepherd squared from the left for Waters to lay off and McTiernan to carry on his fine scoring run with a great touch and unstoppable drive into the roof of the net.
Two minutes later, a long passing move saw Brown find Shepherd on the right-edge of the box, but the former York City winger could only hook into the hands of Cooper. The 24-year-old repeated the dose seconds later after cutting in off the right flank and Waters could also only pick out the ex-Witton gloveman with a headed effort just after the hour.
Williams then made way for Hopson, who had limped out of Town’s cup catastrophe with a foot injury, as the Blues rejigged their midfield with McTiernan dropping back into Williams’ holding role.
It didn’t stop the long-serving Town star from influencing the forward play though and with ten minutes left it was his left-wing corner that was nodded across Cooper and into the net by man of the match Waters, for his first Whitby Town goal.
Marine threatened in the last minute as Codling’s close-range bicycle kick flew inches wide as Whitby extended their unbeaten league run to six matches.
Whitby Town: Bland, Hassan, Robinson (c), Burgess, Pell, McTiernan, Brown, Williams (Hopson 63), Waters, Snaith, Shepherd.
Whitby Town 2 Marine 2