Marine manager Neil Young has hinted at their attacking intent for the remainder of the season starting against Morpeth Town on Saturday.
The Mariners sit outside the playoffs by three points as they enter the final 13 games of the campaign. Lewis Earl opened his account in stoppage time to hand the travelling 10-men a win away at Belper Town on Saturday. He nodded home his first goal since arriving on loan from Chester after Jordan Lussey’s long-throw.
Despite their perilous league position, Belper battled an cancelled out Sol Solomon’s equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Captain Josh Wardle was controversially shown a straight red card following a challenge on the hosts goalkeeper.
Marine have since lost in their appeal and the defender will miss the next four matches.
In recent weeks, Young has been clear that their focus at the start of the season was the secure their status in the Northern Premier League as early as possible – which they’ve since achieved. On their travels this week, it was a nod from the Marine boss of their shift to going all out to earn three points, something they’re carrying into their remaining fixtures.
“I said after the game, it’s a difficult game to assess the performance in terms of the first 45 minutes we were the better team on a difficult pitch,” he told Off The Park. “We scored then give away a goal away right on half-time which brought them back into it.
“Second-half we lose Josh within five minutes but we’ve been reiterating to the lads all week before Stalybridge that we’ve got to take the handbrake off, we’ve got nothing to lose now, we were going to go for it, on the front foot, that’s why we decided after we lost Josh to make positive substitutions.
“If we drew wouldn’t have helped us, if we lost it wouldn’t have helped either but we had to go out on a positive and that’s what we did. We got a goal through Lewis Earl in the 91st, 92nd minute.
“To win at any time is great but we know what a last-minute winner does, it brings the group together, particularly under difficult circumstances, we don’t believe Josh should’ve been sent off, people will have their views, but ours haven’t changed,” he continued. “It’s backs to the wall, to reiterate what I’m telling them, we’re not going to take a backward step, stay on the front foot.
“We stayed with two up front, three in midfield and went for it, we brought on midfield players to keep trying and win the game.
“I wasn’t joking after Stalybridge, our aim this year was to stay in this league, we came up as the fifth team through the playoffs last year, the aim was to always stay in the league and we did that, now it’s a case of what can we achieve?
“To be able to that, we’ve got to get on the front foot and see if we can achieve things that people thought were not achievable when we came into this division.”
This weekend they return to home soil as they welcome Morpeth Town. The north-east outfit make the trip to Crosby looking to bridge the gap between themselves and the danger zone.
They sit two points clear of the relegation battle and have turned a corner, winning their previous two. Young added: “Every game is tough, I keep getting asked about the next opponents et cetera, the next opponents are a tough opponent, there’s no easy games.
“We went to Belper, Stalybridge, we haven’t had any easy games all season so they’re not going to suddenly start, we need to be on our mettle, on the front foot.
“We’ve got to take the game to Morpeth, had a good start to season, we went up there and they were fourth or fifth, won 2-0, then they went on a bad run but they’ve turned a corner and coming into form again and had a fantastic result last week.”
They enter the clash buoyed by the recent additions of Ben Hodkinson and Louis Britton from Bootle and Chorley respectively. The acquisitions end a season-long bid for attacking reinforcements and their arrivals come at a pivotal time for the Mariners.
After securing their safety for next season, Young has remained coy on having a few more positives to end the campaign.
“We’ve not hidden our desire to bring in attacking players but it’s not been that easy, Craig Curran is currently out injured. We’ve got Sol Solomon and Joe Bunney – who to be fair to him has been playing with a strain so not been at full tint and not played a lot of football,” he said.
“It’s been no secret that we have been looking to strengthen at the top of the pitch. Louis Britton is someone we have been aware of for a few weeks now and his goal-scoring ability speaks for itself.
“In the last seven months, he has not played enough football and I know from speaking with him he just wants to come in play games, get back enjoying his football, try and help us In our remaining games and see where that takes him.
“We have been specifically after a left-footed right-sided forward for a number of months now and when we heard Ben was possibly available then we moved quickly to try and bring him to the club. He’s quick, intelligent, has an eye for goal and I’m looking forward to working with both the lads.
“Our first objective was to stay in the league in our first year which has now been achieved, so like last week we will now get on the front foot and see what the last 13 games can potentially bring us.
“The other thing is, we’ve got to make better use of the situations because we have opportunities, we’ve got to put the ball away or not always put the ball away but the right pass so the ball can be put away. That’s what we’ve been lacking and what we’ll be working on.”