First-half goals from Ben Hughes and Lewis Reilly was enough for Marine to down Workington AFC.
Neil Young’s side move third and see their playoff push boosted with a hard-earned win over the title contenders but faced a nervy ending after Nic Evangelinos’ strike sparked a second-half onslaught.
The Mariners started the brighter of the two sides as they instantly had the visitors on the backfoot. Reilly came close in the early exchanges as he picked up the ball to the right of the penalty spot turning onto his left but could only fire over.
But shortly before the break, two goals in eight minutes swung the game heavily in Marine’s favour. A nonchalant cross from Jack Dunn was met with a brave header from Hughes to give the hosts a deserved lead.
One soon became two. A free-kick sprayed diagonally from goalkeeper Bayleigh Passant was expertly controlled by Reilly as he fired low beyond Jim Atkinson.
Workington soon sparked into life and forced Passant into action for the first time through Conor Tinnion, although it was catching practice for the Marine number one.
However, on the stroke of half-time they halved the deficit through Nic Evangelinos. The Reds forward was surrounding by defenders but cleverly found space and rifled into the bottom corner.
A dominant second-half for the visitors would ensue as they pushed to move level on points with Warrington Rylands at the Northern Premier League West summit.
Moments after the restart David Symington’s ferocious volley from the edge of the box kissed the post as it fizzed goalwards. Reuben Jerome then saw his header rattle the bar twice, after rising highest he was denied by the woodwork before it cannoned off Passant and hitting the bar again before Marine could clear.
Their best opportunity in the second half came after a mix-up at the back for the host’s makeshift defence. Evangelinos nipped in and took over but as he bore down on goal with the Marine shot-stopper, he could only blaze over.
Marine defended valiantly and in a rare sight of goal at the other end, following a lung-busting counter-attack, Dunn manoeuvred it onto his left as he looked to cement the three points but could only rattle the post.
It proved to be the final bit of action in a nerve-wracking 45 at the top, as the referee brought an end to proceedings, bodies in the white of Marine were strewn across the Rossett Park turf but the three points will definitely act as a boost for their playoff campaign.
For Workington, they stay behind Rylands in the table by a single point as the battle for automatic promotion goes down to the final two games of the season.
Marine AFC 2-1 Workington AFC
Scorers: 28′ Ben Hughes, 34′ Lewis Reilly; 45′ Nic Evangelinos
Bookings: Alex Doyle, Neil Kengni, Owen Watkinson; Dan Wordworth, Sam Smith.
HT/FT Score: 2-1/2-1.
Off The Park Player of the Match: Ben Hughes.