St Mary’s leapfrogged Laxey into second place in the Canada Life Premier League thanks to a comfortable 2-0 victory over the Miners at a wet and windy Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
In a scrappy contest, goals in each half from Darren Cain and Marc Priestnal were enough to seal the victory for the Saints and move Sam Kenny’s men to within three points of league leaders St George’s, albeit having now played two games more.
Before kick-off the players gathered in the centre circle and joined in a well-observed minute’s applause in memory of the late Andy Cadwallader.
Once play got underway the main talking point was the absence of island goalkeeper Max Thomas in between the sticks for the hosts who was replaced by makeshift shot-stopper Martin Reilly.
In a match of few chances, golden boot contender Steven Priestnal had the game’s first real sight of goal with a free-kick which was saved comfortably by visiting keeper Andy Perry.
Reilly was called into action soon after when Ashley Webster was released inside the box and rounded the stand-in goalie, however the latter recovered to save his goalbound effort.
Paul Rowley went close for Laxey in spectacular effort from long-range following a corner but his shot drifted just off target, while at the other end of the pitch St Mary’s Blagoy Smilyanov fired an effort over the bar from 20 yards.
Danny Gerrard twice nearly broke the deadlock shortly after the half-hour mark, first when he sent a shot just wide from 25 yards out before latching on to a flick from Marc Priestnal inside the area, only for Perry to scramble the ball away to safety at the last second.
Just when it looked like the sides would go in goal-less at the break, the Saints popped up with a crucial goal to swing the match in their favour. Former Corinthians defender Darren Cain ventured forward from his left-back berth and cut inside before lifting a superb right-footed chip over the stranded Perry and into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
The game continued in much the same vein after half-time as conditions detoriated with swirling wind and rain inside the national stadium. Laxey almost mustered up an equaliser out of nothing when a long ball was nodded on by Mark Wolfenden into the path of Webster but the livewire forward’s fierce shot was repelled by Reilly at his near post.
Wolfenden tried his luck soon after from the edge of the box when the ball fell kindly to the targetman, however his venomous strike was deflected behind bravely by Karl Clark.
As the game entered the latter stages, both sides pushed forward for the all-important next goal and it was the hosts who got it to seal the points.
The ball was worked neatly to Marc Priestnal on the edge of the area and the attacker did well to work an extra yard of space before fizzing a low shot past the despairing dive of Perry and into the bottom left corner for 2-0.
To their credit, Laxey refused to give up and went close to halving the deficit when the lively Webster raced at the Saints defence and fired goalwards, but his effort flew just over the bar and Reilly’s goal remained intact.
The final chance of the game fell the hosts’ way when they worked a short corner routine on the left and former Laxey midfielder Josh Thomas fired in a low cross which almost deceived everyone but was hacked off the line and the scored remained 2-0 at the final whistle.
St Mary’s: Martin Reilly, Blagoy Smilyanov (Brian Crellin 67m), Darren Cain, Liam Doyle, Karl Clark, Josh Thomas, Neil Brogan, Stephen Whitley, Steven Priestnal, Danny Gerrard (Nathan Cooil 67m), Marc Priestnal. Sub not used: Sam Kenny
Laxey: Andy Perry, Michael Haslett, Darryl Haslett, Sam Theobald, Alan Harrison, Gary Williams, Johnny Callow (Lee Cowley 61m), Paul Rowley, Ashley Webster, Mark Wolfenden, Jackson Brown (Shaun Kelly 67m). Sub not used Johnny Shields)
Referee: Dave Murphy
Assistants: John McCallum and Peter Greenhill
Man of the Match: Doyle (St Mary’s) - confident and solid performance from the centre-back throughout the contest
Match rating: HHIII
In the only other match to be completed on Saturday afternoon in the Isle of Man, Peel overcome a resilient Ramsey to win 4-1 at Douglas Road.
Marc Kelly grabbed the opening goal for the westerners in the fourth minute, only for the northerners to hit back through Matt Montgomery and the scores remained level 1-1 at the break,
However, Peel pulled away in the second half thanks to a penalty from Daniel Bell and a Dan Corkill strike, while Kelly wrapped up the win with his second of the game with 13 minutes left on the clock.
The games between Foxdale v Pulrose in JCK Division Two and Marown v Douglas and District in JCK Combination Two were both abandoned at half-time as a result of the bad weather conditions.