Neil Young makes FA Cup admission as difficult Guiseley AFC looms for Marine

Marine manager Neil Young celebrates winning Liverpool Senior Cup

Neil Young is hoping Marine can continue their good form in their FA Cup encounter against Guiseley AFC.

The Mariners return to cup action in the First Preliminary Round of the competition as their attention diverts from the Northern Premier League.

Young’s side have won their last two, scoring four and keeping clean sheets after enduring an early season rough patch.

Their West Yorkshire opposition have had an indifferent start to the league campaign, picking up six points in as many games – compared to Marine’s 11, as they sit outside the playoff positions by a point.

Young is wary of the strengths that Guiseley have at home but believes his side are capable of earning a result if they compete at their expected levels.

“They’re always tough games, particularly away from home, they’ll be physical and very good at set-pieces,” he told Off The Park. “I know they’ve had a few injuries and stuff like that, all I can concentrate on is ourselves.

“They’ve got Tom Denton there, a good football, physical presence at the top of the pitch, if we’re at it and we do all the things I want us to do in and out of possession, it’s going to take a good team to beat us.

“If they do beat us, fair play to them, but the key thing is we keep developing, keep reaffirming the points that we want the lads to work on.

“Our training sessions are all built around those core principles of what we’re trying to be. If we carry on doing that, bar injury we’ll continue to improve and get better, if you see them shoots of improvement, we’ll be okay.” 

There is an element of expectation amongst fans at Rossett Park, especially in the FA Cup, following their historic run in 2021. They followed on from that run with a narrow defeat to Wrexham, the following year, which went to a replay after a stoppage-time free-kick.

After the disappointment against Stocksbridge Park Steels last season, the focus for the Marine boss isn’t the expectation but the enjoyment of the competition.

He added: “I think there’s always an element of expectation when you had the cup that we had, there’s an expectation from us.

“But it’s not so much an expectation, internally, it’s more about the enjoyment, excitement of what the last one brought and ones we’ve had since.

“It was only last year that we let ourselves down against Stocksbridge Park Steels, the year before we should’ve beat Wrexham and look what they’ve gone on to do. The cup is good for the feel-good factor for the players and supporters.”

Following back-to-back defeats, Marine bounced back win successive wins over Matlock Town and Basford United during a gruelling Bank Holiday weekend.

The six points took them back to within the playoff pack at the early stage of the season. Young has been transparent in his demands, even though they got off to a positive start, there were still improvements to be made.

But the positive signs are there, the Marine boss says. He continued: “A good weekend, six points, two clean sheets as well. I always found Bank Holiday’s, wherever I’ve been when you’ve got two games back-to-back, difficult.

“Performance-wise we were good, there was stages in the second game where we lost our way a little bit but we were very good against Matlock and good, for most parts, against Basford.”

“In the last two games we’ve gone back to working hard at the top of the pitch, pressing teams, we need to be better on the ball but it’s a work in progress.

“We’ve virtually got a new squad so it will take time, not just on the pitch stuff but integration off the pitch to bring them together – that’s what we’re working on. We’ve had, not a great start, but a half decent start and it’s going to take a bit of time but it helps when you keep clean sheets.”

Former Bamber Bridge playmaker Fin Sinclair-Smith is enjoying life back on Merseyside under Young. He has already registered four goals including a superb effort, rattling the underside of the bar before going in on Monday.

Although the former Chester boss knew of Sinclair-Smith’s qualities before their reunion in the summer, Young has been left pleasantly surprised by the 23-year-old.

Young added: “He’s been here before Fin, he knows the environment, he’ll know Jonno (Ian Johnson) as well.

“He’s that confident in his own ability, the surroundings don’t really bother him. I think he’s scored four goals and if he’s taken a few more of his opportunities, he’s sitting on seven or eight if I’m honest.

“I know he’s been disappointed with chances he’s missed, but he’s had a great start, he’s really impressed me, some of the stuff that he does even surprises me where he is in his development – which is good.

“It’s good to be surprised, he’s settled in well, works hard, the big thing – which is what you want to see as a manager – he doesn’t want to miss anything, training, games, doesn’t want to be subbed, they’re a dream work with.”

[Featured Image: Susan Nugent]

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