Marine manager Neil Young has issued a defiant message after suffering back-to-back defeats.
The Mariners boss has rallied his side and insists that as long as they’re in contention of the playoffs, they will continue fighting.
In their last two, they have suffered chastening results against strugglers Nantwich Town and playoff rivals Matlock Town, conceding six goals.
Paul Carden’s side caught the top-five hopefuls cold and brushed them aside to boost their survival hopes in the Northern Premier League. And on Tuesday, despite two goals from Louis Britton, the Gladiators showed their mettle to claim the points, despite the visitors being denied a penalty with the scores at 1-1.
“We’re disappointed because we lost them both. Saturday, was a poor performance and Tuesday, I thought we done well in the main but after Saturday, anything would’ve been better,” said Young speaking to Off The Park.
“We should’ve took something from the game but the refereeing on Tuesday has left a lot to be desired, a penalty which was not given at a crucial time of the game. They’re the two overriding factors of the game really.
“We should’ve had a blatant penalty on Sol at 1-1, you won’t get a clearer one, the referee is in a great position looking right at it but decides not to give it for whatever reason we can’t keep conceding three goals.
“We conceded three on Saturday, three on Tuesday, three at Bamber and Guiseley. If we keep doing that, you won’t win football matches.”
Marine have boasted a formidable defensive record throughout the campaign, in what has been a solid return to step three following their promotion from the Northern Premier League West last season.
Young’s side have been in and around the top five for the majority of the season but the ongoing problems in the treatment room have left them short. Britton suffered another setback while an anxious wait continues over the fitness of Joe Hardy.
Their defeat against the Dabbers on Saturday was soured by the goal from former loanee Connor Evans. The Crewe Alexandra scored the third goal of the afternoon but made that little bit worse after the Mariners’ second loan move for the striker was blocked due to English Football League (EFL) Regulations.
Young admitted that his side have struggled physically in their last two outings but believes the naivety and inexperience of the squad has contributed to that.
He continued: “I think we struggled physically if I’m honest in both games. We didn’t defend great, we wanted to get into tussles rather than defending, we’ve got to concentrate on defending and not to have a wrestle with the forwards, that’s something we’ve got into in both games.
“We’ve rightly been punished, Matlock had two well-taken goals but again, we could’ve defended better. Nantwich, physically, done well but also defensively we played into their hands, went long and their defenders coped well.
“We’ve got what we’ve got, we’ve had some good results, some bad, that level of consistency is not what we require.
“To go from beating Whitby 3-0, Southport 4-1 then getting beat 3-0 and 3-2, it sums us up a little bit and that’s just the naivety of the group. In terms of the experience in non-league with the majority of the age, there’s not many lads who’ve played at this level, the ‘keeper, our normal right-back, two centre-halves Josh has but Johnny has played in Wales for most of his career.
“Going into midfield, Jordan Lussey has but that’s it really. Ben Hodkinson hasn’t played a lot of football, neither has Joe Hardy but we score goals, two on Tuesday but I put it mainly down to naivety and inexperience.”
This Easter weekend they face a trip to Marske United before welcoming Warrington Town as they look to provide a bump in the road for Mark Beesley’s side as they steamroll to the end of the season.
Their preparations ahead of the trip to the North East has been far from ideal. They were originally pencilled in to face the Seasiders on Friday but on the eve of the game, the hosts pushed the game back to Saturday.
The decision scuppered the Mariners’ preparation as they planned on making the journey to North Yorkshire the night before to aid their travel load but now face little recovery time between Saturday’s trip and Monday’s clash with the Yellows.
Young was audibly irritated by the decision but insists that Marine will continue pushing for playoffs as they sit four points adrift going into the final four matches with the Liverpool Senior Cup against Runcorn Linnets pencilled in for April 18.
He said: “You’ve got to keep trying until you can’t. What’s happened with Marske being postponed won’t have helped the situation because it means we got to Marske on a Saturday, get back very late then going against the in-form team on Monday.
“When you’ve got a small group of players that’s not easy which is why we moved the game weeks and weeks ago to a Friday to give us better time to prepare for the two games. But then, who expects a game to be off waterlogged in April?”
He added: “They’ve got to pick themselves up, we’ve got to pick them up, it’s another tough game, very difficult pitch against a team who are fighting to stay in the league.
“They’ve had some good results in recent weeks and got some good players in forward areas, we’ve got to go and be positive.
“We can still make the playoffs so while there’s something there to play, we’ll keep going at that and we’ve got a cup final to come, it’s not all doom and gloom.
“It’s petering out a little bit which we won’t let happen because if lads want to play in the final, they’re going to have to perform in the last four games.
“You’re looking at them as individuals, I know we’ve still got the playoffs and the cup final but the process has started for next year.
“I’m not one for standing still, never have been – never will be – we’ve had an unbelievable season from what most people expected in terms of the injury front, I’m not for standing still and we won’t be.
“If lads want to be part of what we want to do at Marine, now will be key. I’m looking at attitudes, commitment, what they’re about to see if they’ve got what it takes moving forward.”