Marine boss Neil Young feels the club’s problem in the Northern Premier League West title race is their battle with injuries.
Casualties have plagued Marine’s season throughout their push for promotion and a mid-season slump saw them lose their place at the top of the table.
Workington slipped up last weekend after a defeat to Widnes whilst the Mariners could only muster a point away at Kidsgrove Athletic after being forced to manage with 10 men after Dean Winnard’s early red card.
There is no game this weekend for Young’s side, something he has welcomed as it offers an opportunity to rest as well as focus on work done on the training pitch.
But the stalemate against The Grove left him feeling disappointed as it was a game they should’ve won.
The title race looks set to go down to the wire with Warrington Rylands occupying the summit going into the latest round of fixtures, Young is pleased to see it’s remained “interesting”.
He told Off The Park: “You’ve got Leek, Warrington, Workington all good teams. The more in there the better it is because obviously, it keeps people interested.
“It’s going to be an interesting nine games of football. The problem we’ve got is we just keep losing players. If you look at most of those teams, or I look at the squads/teams most weeks and they’re playing the same players most weeks bar maybe one or two in there which is normal.
“We’re having to change two or three or a back four. From a continuity perspective, it’s not great, it is what it is. We’ve had to deal with it for most of the season but we are dealing with it.
“Obviously the sending off is ridiculous, Dean [Winnard] has reacted to something, he should know better he’s an experienced lad – in terms of league games and things probably the most experienced player we’ve got in our team.
“But we’ve got to give great credit to the players, I thought for the best part of 70 minutes, we were much the better team, we created stuff first half in particular.
“Last 20, understandably we tired a little bit. It was a game we should be taking three points from but when you look at the bigger picture, and being down to 10 men, then you take the point and unfortunately have to move on.
“Even with 10 men we were the better team, quite considerably. We were moving them about, getting overloads in good areas and if we’d of had an extra man, those overloads would’ve been even more so and they wouldn’t be able to handle us. Very frustrating, but that’s football, we have to look to the next one.
“It was half chances, take a little bit more care, the final ball, a couple of shots that we had. To be fair, their ‘keeper done well collecting crosses and what not.
“But generally, we didn’t create a great deal, we got into some good situations where we made wrong decisions, we had one or two opportunities but as I say, not ideal but we’ll take the point and move on.”
With their next game not for a week or so, it allows for some much needed recuperation. Last weekend, Alex Doyle became the latest casualty after suffering a hamstring injury.
David Lynch returned to the squad in a boost for their midfield options after missing a number of matches through injury.
With Winnard likely to miss up to three matches through suspension, Young revealed that there could be as little as two new signings through the door at the Marine Travel Arena.
Young explained: “It’s a welcome break, with all the injuries, [Alex] Doyle came off with his hamstring – which is a big loss for us – Dean will not be suspended irrespective of where it is. But it gives me time to try and produce something in the transfer market which we’re hoping to do over the next week.
“It’ll also give us some time on the training pitch without the pressure of preparing for a game. Next week we can put all our eggs in one basket for the game, as of now we can train with a bit of pressure off and work on what we need to work on.
“A bit too early [to say] we are still looking to get things done. We have spoken to clubs, players, we’re quite far down with one or two, you never know with football, they [other clubs] hear you’re in and come in with more money etc.
“At the moment we’re just waiting on paperwork to be completed on both deals that we’ve got over the pocket, if they come off we’ll wait and see.”
This week also saw the first of Marine’s Fan Forums at Rossett Park. The Mariners boss felt it was a worthwhile meeting between fans and the board, emphasising the importance of communication.
“I think communication in any business is always important,” he continued. “People can get information second hand and sometimes that’s incorrect, particularly with social media now, a rumour can become the truth when it’s not.
“Always difficult particularly when it’s wet but a decent crowd on. I think the club covered all bases of where we’re up to, it’s interesting for everyone. Communication is always important because if it’s coming from the horses mouth, usually it’s correct.
“I said in the fans forum, if someone would’ve said with nine games to go, you’re going to be joint top, we were one kick of the ball away from being in the first round of the FA Cup again, we had a good run in the FA Trophy.
“We do tend to forget and it’s not excuses, it’s facts, if anyone would’ve lost their back four at any level of football, they wouldn’t be competing now, they’ll probably be around sixth, seventh position, we’ve managed to come out with it and find a way.
“I know we’ve hit a bit of sticky wicket but we’ve got 65 points, all the other leagues I don’t think any are as close as our league is. We’ve just got to keep going, I’ll keep doing as best as I can, I think the club appreciate how hard we work to put things right and the injuries have been unprecedented, especially defensively.”