Marine boss Neil Young hailed his side as they came out on top against title contenders Workington on Saturday.
The Mariners were quick out of the blocks against Chris Willcock’s side and saw their dominance pay off after goals from Ben Hughes and Lewis Reilly.
On the stroke of half-time, a superb strike from Nic Evangelinos clawed a goal back for the Northern Premier League’s second-placed team.
The final 45 saw the hosts weather a constant flurry of attacks from the visitors with David Symington rattling the post before Reuben Jerome’s header cannoned off the bar twice.
For Workington, it was a massive blow to their title hopes as they missed the opportunity to leapfrog Rylands going into the final two matches of the season.
Speaking to Off The Park after Saturday’s win, here’s what Neil Young said:
“At half time, they were coming in and happy with themselves and rightly so but only for 30-35 minutes, we took our foot off the gas, gave away a sloppy goal away – the lads took it well. But it’s a throw-in by their corner flag, they send it long, we had chances to clear it, didn’t, the lads backed us up to our goal, he’s been allowed to turn and score.
“Disappointing for the goal, but generally commitment, passion is what we’ve been asking for and that’s what we got. We’re getting players back slowly and hopefully bear for us going forward.
“It’s difficult every time you think you’ve got a player back you lose two, it can be demoralising from a managerial point of view, any manager will tell you that. When you’re trying to win things and expectation is high, people who don’t know question you.
“Don’t get me wrong, you need to be questioned as a manager but I’ll take anyone who can judge the effort and commitment we put in to make it right. But when you’re losing players every game, we’ve lost eight defenders at this level this year, it’s only the contacts we’ve got to have lads fill in.
“You look today (Saturday), Ben Roberts has come in, done fantastically well, James Barrigan has had to play left-back, Jay Devine is a midfielder playing centre half played outstanding. We’re patched up still but we’re nearly there.
“We’ve worked on togetherness. As a footballer, it’s easy to pat each other on the back when you’re winning matches and have that together, it’s when the chips are down, along with those chips being down you’ve got to have continuity if you haven’t got a team or putting a different defence out every week that’s what we’ve got.
“You’ve seen today, no Howarth, no McNally, no Cummins, no White – they’re just names off the top of my head there’s a few more in there. The good news is by next Saturday hope to have them all back.
“What people need to understand is it’s a different game for them, they have to win, a draws no good to them. They’ve got to play Kendal and Market Drayton, no disrespect to them two but you’d expect Workington to win them, they had to win today.
“They can afford to throw men at it and when our lads haven’t played, a lot out of position, you’re going to get that bombardment – we stood up to it. Apart from the one that’s hit the bar, I don’t think Bayleigh’s had that much to do.
“We’ve hit the post at the other end, Lewis Reilly’s had made great opportunities in the first half but generally from where we were Thursday night trying to pick a team with no back four technically, for them lads to go out and perform that’s what I asked of them, irrespective of how good or indifferent they are and make mistakes, the first thing non-negotiable is the work rate and effort. That’s what we’ve spoke about today and that’s what we’ve produced.
“Unbelievable goals. One thing I have been critical of lately is our forward play. I think that might be something to do with we’ve had to worry about defending. When people say we’re worrying about defenders, we are, but we kept five clean sheets in five games but when you worry about defending, it stops you going forward a little bit.
“Today, we had lads in attack, Kengni higher up the pitch – thought he was outstanding, Ben Hughes on the other side. Key thing for me, your centre halves are key and we’ve had none, Dean coming in and out with his knee, Howarth – he’s a midfielder doing us a favour – Jay Devine, these are young men and we’re asking them to go dominate tried and tested centre forwards and it’s difficult for them.
“We’ve had four great games with them (Workington) this season, proper football matches and we’ve done well. What we did was treated that today as a cup tie but the pleasing thing is lads have been given the opportunity and boy have they taken them.”