Neil Young makes Marine title declaration as injury crisis laid bare

Marine booked their place in the next round of the FA Trophy after an action-packed clash with Dunston Town.

Marine manager Neil Young has played down their brilliant start to the season despite leading the race.

After picking up wins in their games in hand, they occupy top spot still having played a game less than nearest challengers Warrington Rylands.

Their 2-0 win over Kendal Town on Tuesday saw the gap at the summit bridged to five points as they face Widnes on Saturday.

Last weekend, they made national headlines – not the first time in 2021 – as their FA Trophy clash with Dunston Town was suspended for almost an hour after a floodlight failure with the visiting midfielder Phil Turnbull being called upon for his electrical nous which helped keep the game on.

Marine went on to win on penalties after the match finished 2-2 but the clash wasn’t short of controversy after it appeared the Dunston attacker punched the ball into the back of the net to give the visitors a lifeline.

But as their title push continues as do the injury woes with a number of players either doubtful or out of the visit to the DCBL Stadium.

Josh Solomon-Davies (dead leg), Kyle Hayde (back), Danny Shaw and Dean Winnard (hamstring), Mark Howarth (thigh strain), Alex Doyle (hamstring) and James Barrigan (suspended) could all miss out.

“We’ve done well. I’m not 100 percent sure I’ve played the same team twice, that’s great credit to the squad, a few lads have stepped up from the under-23s,” Young lauded after their recent form, speaking to Off The Park.

“We’ve got to keep concentrating on the next game, every game is tough we’ve seen the results throughout the league particularly playing Saturday-Tuesday it’s difficult to put two games together so it’s great credit to the lads of manage to do that but we are stretched numbers-wise at the moment. 

“It’s always good to be top but you don’t get anything for being top after 14 games, we’ve just got to concentrate on the next one which is Widnes so we’ll worry about that. We’d rather be top than anywhere else but nothings given out in November, we’re not even halfway through so there’s a long way to go yet, a lot of good sides.

“My main concern is the amount of injuries we’ve got and that’s something we’re looking at, at the moment.”

Ryan Wignall and Lewis Reilly fired the hosts into a two-goal lead in the second half before Sado Djalo and Lee Mason sent the match into extra-time.

Despite the win, a poor first half was soon cancelled out by an impressive first half, Young recalls, but was still disappointed at the manner of the first Dunston goal adding to a series of refereeing decisions which have proved costly for Marine.

“It was one of them games, first half, it was a poor game, we were generally poor in the game. We had some words at half-time, we came out second half and we’re excellent then obviously after eight minutes of the second half the lights went out and I thought we may have lost our momentum.

“50/55 minutes later, only five minutes before the game would’ve been abandoned we got the game back on and we carried on I thought from where we left off and went two ahead.

“Then, they score – you look at it, a blatant handball – which ultimately changed the game because he scored got them back into them, he’d just been booked so would’ve been sent off so you would’ve been 2-0 up to 2-1 and them down to 10 men.

“Within five or six minutes it’s 2-2 and we’re down to 10 men so that decision from the referee and the assistant referee has a major impact on the game.

“People think I’m harping on about officials but it’s a massive, key decision in football matches. We had the Wrexham one, that one on Saturday, I could name you four or five. Everyone will say they get them and they’re right but you’ve got to get the big decisions right and I get they’ll make mistakes in the games it’s a difficult job.

“I don’t know at the moment, the referee, assistant referee relationship in the game doesn’t seem as fluid, I’m not sure if assistant referees are being told to let the referees referee the game that’s their prerogative but I go back to Wrexham, on Saturday we got away with it but it’s clear for everyone to see at the time, the referee or assistant referee has to get them big decisions right. 

“To be fair to the referee someone said he came into the club after and asked a couple of people and everyone said yeah. As I say, I know it’s a difficult job but I do think you’ve got to get big decisions right because big decisions decide games and ultimately changing games can change fortunes of football clubs.

“Mistakes happen, we all make mistakes, it seems to be a reoccurring theme and I think we should be getting them right.”

Irrespective of their current league position, Young still believes there is a level and bar that his side can reach, he added: “People will say you’re top of the league and you’ve had a good FA Cup, still in the FA Trophy so I might be under egging it but I don’t think we’ve hit the heights that I expect.

“We’ve been working, we graft like nobody else, we work harder than anyone else and that’s great credit to the players but still don’t think we’ve reached the heights we can teach and that might be down to the consistency of being able to pick players I think it’s down to that more than anything. 

“I don’t think we’ve reached the height in games yet, we’re winning games and people will say we’re winning dirty but we need to be more ruthless and creative in games.

“If you look at our results it’s 2-1, 2-2, 1-0, 2-0 I see other teams going blitzing five, six, sevens don’t get me wrong as well after the cup run last year suppose a lot of teams want to take aim at us probably more than others.

“But I don’t think we’ve met the heights of my expectations as yet but the caveat to that is we haven’t been able to pick a consistent team plus our teamwork harder than anyone and that’s why we get the result we get.”

[Featured image: Susan Nugent]

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