Liverpool proves unhappy FA Cup hunting ground for Hawks - 12 years on from memorable Anfield occasion

Marine are delighted at the final whistle. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty ImagesMarine are delighted at the final whistle. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Marine are delighted at the final whistle. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
One city, two FA Cup ties almost 13 years apart, two completely different footballing worlds. But sadly for Hawks, the same end result - defeat.

Back in January 2008, thousands of Hawks fans descended on Anfield for a fourth round tie against one of the greatest sporting names on the planet. Against all the odds, they twice led Liverpool before losing 5-2.

The club’s first trip back to the same city since that memorable occasion couldn’t have been more different. The Marine Travel Arena is only 5.7 miles from Anfield, situated in the suburb of Crosby, but it’s light years away in terms of facilities.

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It is a cramped ground hemmed in by housing - there is only a very small terrace on one side, just the dugouts on the other - offering virtually no scope for expansion.

Hawks striker Tommy Wright on the ball against Marine. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty ImagesHawks striker Tommy Wright on the ball against Marine. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Hawks striker Tommy Wright on the ball against Marine. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The only stand was built 20 years ago behind one of the goals while the dugouts were virtually on the touchline, giving Hawks boss Paul Doswell and his staff the smallest technical area they will see this season.

In January 2008, over 42,000 packed into Anfield to watch Hawks. This time, due to the pandemic, only club officials, media and BT Sport staff - plus two policemen - were inside a ground which can only hold just over 3,000.

Under six miles away in terms of geography, Marine can’t hold a candle to the tradition, history, success and fanbase of the Premier League champions.

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But thanks to the FA Cup - still the greatest club knockout trophy in world sport - the part-timers from the eighth tier of English football will on Monday evening take their place in the third round alongside both Liverpool and Everton.

Marine celebrate their stunning FA Cup win over Hawks. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty ImagesMarine celebrate their stunning FA Cup win over Hawks. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Marine celebrate their stunning FA Cup win over Hawks. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

For a day at least, they can dream.

And they fully deserve their right to dream as well, after embarrassing a Hawks side who started the day 41 places higher in the footballing pyramid. In the FA Cup, though, that means nothing - only the previous evening Chorley had dumped out a Peterborough side who are 89 places above them.

It is those two results that sum up the enduring magic of the FA Cup; how boring football would be if the favourites always won.

This wasn’t the first time Hawks have been knocked out of the competition by lower tier opposition. Back in 1999/2000, only the second season in their history, they conspired to lose a second qualifying round replay to Sussex League minnow Langney Sports.

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North Leigh (2012/13) and Met Police (2018/19) also dumped Hawks out despite being two divisions lower than them at the time.

All FA Cup losses should hurt, and the one at Marine should certainly hurt a lot given what rewards could have been. Of course, the league is Hawks’ priority but the day a non-league club isn’t fussed about losing in the second round will hopefully never arrive.

Some times in cup football, the best team on the day doesn’t win. That wasn’t the case here as Marine were easily the better side and thoroughly deserved their seventh FA Cup win of the season (and fourth against a higher tier club).

Hawks had been given some uncomfortable moments in the first round against another team who are two divisions below them, Cray Valley. Here, Marine - who hadn’t played since beating League Two club Colchester in the first round on November 8 - caused even more problems.

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They had width, they had pace, they had a huge hunger, they were sharper, they were solid in defence.

Basically, they looked as if they wanted it more. They looked like they wanted a home draw with Liverpool or Everton in the third round more than Hawks wanted a home tie with Pompey or Southampton - the games that would have been Doswell’s first and second choices.

Ok, it might have taken Marine 119 minutes to get the goal - skipper Niall Cummins closing his eyes and diving to head in at the far post - but, in truth, they deserved to win inside the 90 minutes.

Hawks were indebted to keeper Ross Worner for a couple of great second half saves to even take the tie to the extra half-hour.

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At the other end, Hawks only managed one on-target effort in 90 minutes, a shot from sub Theo Widdrington that was saved at the near post.

Going into the game with a five-man defence, Doswell started with just Tommy Wright up front as Joe Iaciofano hadn’t trained all week due to a groin injury.

One of the three centre halves, Moussa Diarra, could have given Hawks a 12th minute lead but fired well wide from a Roarie Deacon corner. It would prove to be one of their best chances of the afternoon.

For most of the opening 45 minutes, Hawks only really threatened via Josh Taylor throw-ins or free-kicks, but the hosts - with Anthony Miley and David Raven impressive at centre half - defended well.

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Marine came very close to breaking the deadlock in time added on at the end of the first period.

Josh Hmami fired in a left foot shot from just inside the penalty area which rebounded off the post. Kenghi’s follow up effort was parried by Worner and, with Hawks unable to clear, Hmami then lashed a shot over the bar.

Worner produced the first of two great second half saves on 65 minutes, saving with a foot after Touray had been put through.

Widdington, on as a sub for the off-colour Billy Clifford saw his shot saved low down at his near post by Bayleigh Passant, but Worner was easily the busier of the two keepers.

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He produced another superb stop on 76 minutes, changing direction to divert Cummins’ close range shot behind for a corner.

Hawks were reduced to 10 men in the 88th minute when skipper Anthony Straker brought down Neil Kenghi and was shown a second yellow by referee Ross Joyce.

It was a busy afternoon for Joyce, who was to blow his whistle for a staggering 51 free-kicks across the two hours of action - no wonder the tie struggled to flow.

Straker was one of seven Hawks booked, along with three Marine players, in a tie that was never remotely dirty. There was hardly a rash challenge, no melees; it was anything but a feisty encounter, but it still ended with 10 names in the notebook.

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Despite Hawks’ numerical disadvantage, both halves of extra-time were fairly even.

Worner rushed out to deny Touray with his feet before saving low down from the same player.

At the other end, Deacon took a pass from Benny Read but lashed a shot wastefully high and wide.

As the seconds ticked on, it looked like penalties - for the third time in the FA Cup this season for Marine and for Hawks only the second time in their cup history (they lost to Hayes on spot-kicks in the club’s first ever season in 1998/99).

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But no. The footballing Gods ensured the right result when a free-kick was floated to the back post, Anthony Miley rose highest to nod back across the six-yard box and Cummins threw himself at the ball which slowly, agonisingly for Hawks, crossed the line.

Cue the sort of jubilant scenes the FA Cup is famous for.

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