Marine beat Macclesfield in Northern Premier League playoff final to book National League North spot

Marine defender Josh Wardle lifts NPL playoff trophy.

Marine secured promotion to the National League North thanks to a 2-1 win away at Macclesfield.

It was another famous win for Neil Young’s side as they caused an upset by beating the Silkmen at Moss Rose thanks to goals from Fin Sinclair-Smith and Jack Bainbridge.

Sinclair-Smith suffered heartache in the playoff final 12 months ago after losing late on for Bamber Bridge to Warrington Town but he shrugged off the heartache for the Mariners

After a battling start, Marine eventually wrestled momentum in their favour after half an hour and came close through Owen Robinson and Bainbridge. Robinson’s powerful left-footed volley cannoned off the crossbar before the former Southport midfielder’s follow-up was bundled away.

However, their pressure soon paid off after a free-flowing move led to Laurent Mendy tripping Sol Solomon in the box. Sinclair-Smith stepped up from 12 yards and fired low into the bottom left corner for his 26th goal of the season

The visitors frustrated the Silkmen in the first-half as they struggled to break through the visitors’ stern defence.

Marine were quick out of the blocks in the second-half and Sinclair-Smith almost had a second. On-loan Wrexham defender Scott Butler found the goalscorer with a superb outside-of-the-boot cross who cut inside and fired low but was denied by the outside of the post.

The pendulum soon swung in Maccclesfield’s favour as they pushed for an equaliser. They found it difficult to find an avenue through Young’s side but they were caught napping after a short Macclesfield corner.

Kane Drummond threaded through Alex Curran but the former Stockport County attacker could only fire at Bobby Jones.

As the Silkmen pushed for a leveller, they were undone by the Mariners. Bainbridge was in the right place at the right time to fire through a sea of bodies after Bobby Grant steered Josh Wardle’s knockdown.

Only two months earlier, the former Southport midfielder had a chance in the same position on his Marine debut, which would’ve been the equaliser that day but he made no mistake when it mattered.

Despite slipping two behind, Michael Clegg’s side turned up the pressure and they almost immediately levelled proceedings. Drummond and Curran combined once more as the 25-year-old’s shot sparked a scramble but Jones made a desperate dive to keep it from going over the line.

The Stockport County loanee was called into action soon after as he pushed Drummond’s curling effort away from danger. Paul Dawson, who was player of the match when the two sides met in October, blazed over a glorious chance after peeling away from his marker.

Dawson was in the same team as Sinclair-Smith that suffered late heartache at Cantilever Park last May and despite being unmarked, he could only poke over the bar.

Jones was eventually beaten after a mistake, with 12 minutes remaining . Macclesfield’s pressure was finally rewarded after putting the Mariners under sustained pressure.

Drummond fashioned space on the edge of the box and unleashed a stinging effort goalwards which squirmed through Jones and over the line.

Marine managed to hold on to secure the historic promotion, in what was a fantastic team display from the visitors. It marks another landmark moment under the guise of Young which features two FA Cup first round performances, two Liverpool Senior Cup triumphs, as many promotions at Rossett Park and the well-publicised third round tie against Tottenham Hotspur.

Six years on from their damning relegation to the Northern Premier League West, Marine equal their highest ever league position and will be planning for trips to Scunthorpe United, Kiddeminster Harriers and rivals Southport.

[Featured Image: Darren Murphy – NPL]

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