Steve McNulty fires Bootle warning as progress point made

Bootle players celebrate beating Skelmersdale United

Steve McNulty has expressed his desire for his Bootle side to build on their current unbeaten run as they host 1874 Northwich.

The Bucks have created some breathing space between themselves and the relegation scrap after they turned a corner following a difficult run which saw them lose five straight matches.

Since then, they made it two wins in two and four unbeaten after Ben Hodkinson’s direct corner earned the win over Skelmersdale United.

“They’re going well, I watched them a couple of weeks back, they’re a good side, well organised,” the Bootle manager told Off The Park.

“The front four are dangerous, the 10 plays in behind and a big lad up front, it’s another test but we’re at home, on a good run, lads are full of confidence.

“We look good in our shape, probably wasn’t our best performance on Saturday but we ground out a performance. We’ll be going into it full of confidence, we won’t be taking them lightly, we’ll show them the respect they deserve, going in full of confidence and looking to grab three points.”

The likes of former City of Liverpool striker Josh Quarless and ex-Prescot Cables attacker Mackenzie O’Neill are in the 1874 ranks. Like Bootle, the Greens have also pulled off one of the shocks of the season beating the title-favourites Macclesfield away from home.

McNulty added: “We went on that bad run where we lost five games but we learnt more in them five games than I have done in my whole career so it was time to press the reset button, we went back to basics, changed shape – one the lads are used to and we look solid.

“We look a lot more robust and we’re always in games where as we went down by two and three goals, with the front four we’ve got, you’re always liable to get one on the break. It looks good at the minute, we’re not stopping, we’re looking to improve the squad and push Bootle forward.”

They go into the clash off the back of their stunning penalty shootout win over last season’s Northern Premier League West champions, Warrington Rylands, in the Liverpool Senior Cup.

Billy Smart and Tom Peterson pulled the Bucks level on Wednesday before Joe Mason was the saviour with two saves from the spot – after Hodkinson failed to score from 12 yards.

“It was a chance to rest a few lads who have played the majority of the games since I come in, so give them a rest with it being a big game on Saturday, had a couple on the bench that we didn’t use as well but we had a mix of youth and lads who’ve been playing in the first-team so gave us a chance to look at the 21s as well,” he said.

“I thought a couple of them done great, two Flight twins held their own, a few others done well as well and the ‘keeper made two great saves – pulled Ben Hodkinson out of the s*** like but you know.

“It was good all around, it shows another side to us, we were 2-0 down, they were probably the better side first-half, made some changes in the second-half and I thought we looked a lot better, dug in, a goal disallowed in extra-time.

“A good run out all around, lads got minutes that needed minutes coming back from suspensions and stuff like that so a good night all around.

“It’s good for confidence, they were similar for us, rested as many as they could and they had a mix of youth and first-team.

“They probably had five or six that would play in the first-team, a good test for the lads and it’s always good beating a team from a higher level, the runs keeps going and we keep building confidence and working on the things we want to work on – it’s looking good at the minute.”

Their win over Skelmersdale United brought an abrupt end to Wyll Stanway’s loan at the Berry Street Garage stadium. Parent club Chester recalled the shot-stopper before loaning him to Macclesfield, after Marcelo Pitaluga was ruled out until the New Year with an ankle ligaments injury.

Joshua Ollerenshaw arrived on dual-registration from Curzon Ashton and could make his debut between the sticks on Saturday.

“I’ve known Wyll a while, it was probably a gamble signing him but he’s one for the future,” McNulty added on the decision.

“We were lucky to get him but it’s always disappointing losing but sometimes in football, where they get an opportunity to go to a full-time outfit and he phones you to tell you what he wants to do sometimes it might be better to let him go.

“It’s one of those things, we move on, we’ve got a couple in the pipeline that will come in, good goalkeepers, experienced so we’ll be alright, we’ll be fine.

“We’ve had a few out with suspension, injuries, we’re getting a few back this week, we’ve managed to sign Andy Owens which will be a good signing for us.

“They will be in and around the squad, whether they’ll be on the bench is another thing, we need to assess injuries and the knocks but for sure, we’ve got a couple in Dave’s [Jones] U21s – who is doing a great job.

“Looking to the future, we might look to get them out to play more man’s football and bring them on that way,” the Bootle manager revealed after being impressed by the youngsters in Wednesday’s win.”

[Featured image: Paul Moran]

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