Brian Richardson has hailed his Bootle side as they ran out 2-0 winners against Marine despite defending for over an hour with a numerical disadvantage.
The Bucks completed a league double over their rivals thanks to goals from Tom Peterson and Jack McGowan.
Will Bell was shown a straight red card on the stroke of half-time for a tackle on Marine’s Owen Watkinson but they defended astutely, throwing bodies on the line to deny the playoff contenders and keeping a clean sheet.
Theo Roberts was among the many man-of-the-match contenders after thwarting the Mariners on no fewer than five occasions, excluding a double-save in the opening stages of the clash.
For Bootle, they ended their home campaign on a high, putting behind them a disappointing run of results and following up from Friday’s win over Trafford.
Richardson couldn’t hide his pride after the match, he told Off The Park: “No, no (doesn’t get much better), I thought at 1-0, 11 v 11 we’d get over the line. Obviously, when the red card come I thought ‘it was going to be a tough ask this’, I couldn’t see them not getting a goal but I couldn’t see us scoring a second so it shows how wrong you can be, (I) know nothing about football!
“They are very much together. There is a togetherness in the group, they’re fit, I didn’t feel fitness would be the problem, I felt the problem would be get up and support Tom (Peterson) and play fairly deep because of the situation, he didn’t get much support but ran himself into the ground, was like blood to water really. He put a massive shift in and at the end we had to bring him off.
“Subbing him late, putting Ben (Hodkinson) up front, he’s a little bit quicker and got in down that left hand side. A lot of the time when Ben’s in them positions, he’ll shoot and I was praying for him to just square it and it’d all be over, thankfully he did and Jack McGowan smashed it into the top corner, ‘keeper was never going to get near that.
“It’s been a good day, we ridden our luck to an extent putting bodies on the line and one or two strange decisions. It was a back pass and I thought ‘oh my god, talk about giving them this on the plate today, why’ve you picked it up? Just kick it’ but they still didn’t score, they didn’t find a way to be able to do it and to our credit, we come away with three points.
“I think you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do with 10 men, I thought we started okay, I thought we would’ve passed it more as the game progressed, we were unable to do that today,” he admitted. “We went 4-4-2 which we’ve not done all year, they were similar in their approach I thought, they came here to win.
“Today, there was some fantastic performances out there today, I don’t know how they’ll pick a man of the match today, there were solid, good performances, not outstanding skill-wise but solid hardworking performances from lads who made like to get on the ball a bit more and couldn’t do it so they had to do a lot more running.
“I felt like the crowd got behind us a bit today which was nice, especially after the second goal,” Richardson said after sending the home fans back happy. “I’d like to think they’ve given the team some credit for what they’ve done today.
“Especially being a local derby match, you and I know local bragging rights is important to fans and we’ve done the double over Marine now so I’m sure the fans will be more than happy. But like I said to the lads in the dressing room, we’ve also had teams like Glossop do the double over us, that’s where we’ve got to address things.
“Losing against sides, not having an outstanding season but got the double over us, we were worse in both games they played against us but maybe everyone’s got their own Achilles heel, maybe we’re Marine’s and maybe Glossop’s ours.”
They travel to league leaders Warrington Rylands on the final day of the season knowing a defeat will hand Rylands promotion to the Northern Premier League, Richardson fired a warning: “For us, we knew before today we were going to seventh win, lose or draw.
“You’ve got your own pride and your players have got their own pride, we make a lot about that we don’t want players who’ll go through the motions.
“We want players who want to work hard when they come to the club, the game next week will be a tense game for them because they’ve got to beat us.
“They’ll be looking thinking we’ve got a bit of form, it’ll be an interesting game so whoever wins it, if they win it, they deserve to win it simple as that. If they don’t… we’re not doing anyone any favours, we will be playing a side who will be capable of winning the game.”