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Leigh RMI 1 Marine 1 (Marine win 4-1 on penalties)

By Matt Lawton
December 6 2005

RMI crashed out of the Lancashire FA Challenge Cup at the second round stage, losing on penalties to Unibond Premier League outfit Marine. The two sides met in this competition last season, albeit in itís previous guise as the Marsden Trophy before it was re-branded as the Co-Operative Challenge Cup, with RMI running out emphatic 5-1 winners at a drenched Hilton Park in what proved to be Phil Starbuckís final game in charge of the side.

With RMIís form recent form has seen them plummet towards the foot of the Conference North, former Vauxhall Motors manager Alvin McDonald has quietly built a decent Marine side, with the Rossett Park outfit currently riding high in the Unibond Premier and looking for promotion to the Conference North.

It was the visitors who created the first goalscoring chance, with RMI goalkeeper James Mann, in for the rested John Lamb, was relieved to see a header fly past the far post, before the visitors smashed the crossbar with a terrific shot from distance.

Marine looked to be a particularly well organised side, and with RMI boss Andy Nelson experimenting with a couple of players playing in unfamiliar positions, they found their lower league opponents tough to break down at the back.

On a bitterly cold winters evening at Hilton Park, the low key standing of the competition was there for all to see, with neither side taking any significant number of risks in order to take the lead, meaning a pretty dour affair was played out in front of the sparse crowd.

Although both sides created a couple of half-chances during the course of the game, while RMI had a credible penalty shout towards the end, it came as no shock that the encounter was still goal-less by the end of the ninety minutes, meaning another half an hour of extra time.

Penalties seemed a certainty as neither side took control in the first period of extra time, but that was all to change in the second half.

It was the visitors who struck first, Danny Byrne taking advantage of some poor Leigh defending to slot the ball past the onrushing Mann and give the visitors the lead midway through the second period of extra time.

When Steve Brockley conceded a penalty with only a matter of minutes remaining, it seemed all over. However, Marine missed the spot kick and RMI lived to fight another day.

They took advantage of their unlikely second chance with only a matter of minutes remaining when Gareth Stoker hit a hopeful shot from the edge of the penalty area, with his strike looping in to the air off the body of a Marine defender and somehow sneaking inside the post to give RMI an unlikely equaliser.

However, that good luck didnít carry over in to the resultant penalty shoot out, and Marine converted all of the shots that they needed, coming out 4-1 victors after a pretty poor RMI showing from twelve yards out.

So thatís the end of RMIís last chance of a cup run this season, and they will certainly have to improve if they are to get anything other than a thrashing when they make the short trip to face high-flying Northwich Victoria on Saturday afternoon.

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