Marine manager Neil Young has acknowledged the strength that Wrexham possess but notes that there will be some apprehension from the visitors after their monumental FA Cup run last season.
The Mariners go into the clash off the back of a penalty shootout win in the FA Trophy and a midweek win over Kidsgrove Athletic.
But whilst the Rossett Park side were continuing their promotion push with their resounding 3-0 win, Wrexham were preparing for the FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying clash.
When the two sides collide, it will be the first match in over a week for Phil Parkinson’s side whilst Young felt slightly aggrieved that his side’s preparation and recovery was not only halved but made harder following the intensity of the win.
Neil Kengni continued his brilliant scoring form with a brace midweek with the Red Dragons scouts watching on.
The win took Marine to within three points of league leaders Workington, a display which delighted the Mariners boss.
“I thought as a complete performance it was one of our best so far, they came, they wouldn’t call the game off for their own reasons, I think they thought we’d have one eye on the cup and they’d come and do us but fully professional performance by the players.”
This round saw the National League side’s introduced, but for Marine it’s nothing new having faced Warrington Town and Atherton Colleries – twice – so far in the competition.
But higher opposition is nothing new for Young’s side after beating a number of better-ranked outfits last campaign on route to their clash with Spurs.
Next though is Parkinson’s side who enter the match buoyed following the investment from new owners and acting stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
“If you look at our results at the FA Cup last year and this year, we’ve been playing teams above our level but I think we’ve had a strategy in place, we’ve been working towards that, I think it was the cup run last year, improving the squad, the numbers and quality in the squad has allowed us to compete on all fronts.”
“I just don’t get it,” Young said on the lack of time between fixtures.
“On Saturday against Wrexham we’ll have played 18 games, which is virtually equivalent to half a league season in 10 weeks, which in part-time football, that is absolutely ridiculous. You look at the Conference North, it’s kicked off on the same day as us and on average they’ve played between 10 and 12 games which is reasonable.
“We’ve got many months now to play games, very few midweeks, I just don’t get what the thought process is. My own conclusion is they want promotion and relegation this year, we have to get to a certain amount of games for that to happen as a percentage and it looks like we’re trying to get to that percentage as quick as we possibly can just in case Covid hits or whatever but that’s not the benefit of the players.
“I’m not speaking about just myself, every manager I speak to they’re all saying the same thing injuries, muscular injuries doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that playing 18 games of football in 10 weeks, you’re not going to have a problem. More so this week, because Wrexham haven’t played a game since last Tuesday, that’s not their fault, but likewise the league should’ve intervened.
“I think ourselves, Stanford, Morpeth and Pontefract Colleries should’ve been allowed if they wanted to move the game because we’ve got about 30 weeks of the season left and I’m sure we could slot in Kidsgrove at home amongst all that wouldn’t have been a problem and given us an opportunity to go, win the game and fly the flag for the Northern Premier League.”
Saturday poses another milestone for the Marine Travel Arena and Marine as they can finally welcome a capacity crowd for the visit of Wrexham after their fans missed the chance to see Jose Mourinho’s side in the flesh during the pandemic.
“It’s all about creating memories, creating experiences and that’s what tomorrow does. It’s up there with Tottenham, up there with Salford in my time at the football club, obviously they wasn’t allowed to see Tottenham live but they were allowed to see them on TV which is something we haven’t done in recent years that I’m aware of.
“Football’s about creating memories not just for the players but for the supporters as well because they’re the key people in this.
“Wrexham are a good side, they’ve been taken over in the summer, a lot of investment. Signed a lot of good players, Football League players, signed the League Two leading goalscorer in Paul Mullin, he’s going to be a real threat. They’ve got big plans, big ambitions, which is great to see in football.
“We know the size of the task but likewise, they’ll have a bit of trepidation playing us because of what we’ve managed to achieve in the last 12 months especially in this competition.”