Marine manager Neil Young has described their Northern Premier League run-in as a “tough march” as they look to break into the playoffs.
The Mariners returned to winning ways following their defeat to Liversedge by beating Atherton Collieries thanks to a solitary goal from Louis Britton.
They’re now three points away from Bamber Bridge, who occupy the final playoff spot, having played a game less than Jamie Milligan’s side.
There are trips to Matlock Town, Gainsborough Trinity, Marske United and Hyde United on the horizon for Marine as well as the visits of Guiseley – this Saturday – plus FC United of Manchester and Warrington Town, who currently sit third.
“We’re just taking each game at a time, the fans can have them expectations – why not? That’s part and parcel of being a supporter, looking forward to might potentially,” said Young speaking to Off The Park.
“I can’t and the team can’t look that far ahead, we’ve got a very tough game against Guiseley but they’re all tough, if you look at the run-ins of the teams around us, ours is probably as hard as there is but every game is tough, you’ve got the subconscious of clubs that aren’t playing for a lot.
“They’ll be having a go or free to do what they want and relax, you have them conundrums. We’ve beaten Everton in the Senior Cup with a good performance on the back of all the injuries.
“People don’t like to hear it but they’re the facts, if you’ve got 10 players out – and most would get in every team in this division – then you’ve got a challenge on your hands. We don’t have a lot of numbers but the lads keep churning out results.”
Injuries continue to plague the ranks in Crosby but Marine will be buoyed by the return of Kyle Hayde after serving his one-match suspension, Luke Clark is also in contention for a return to the squad following a calf problem.
There may be space for Craig Curran who continues to step up his bid for full fitness, however, they are still awaiting the results of the scan on Andy Scarisbrick’s knee. Andy Hollins, who has been out for the season with a knee problem, could return before the end of the season to make his debut.
Mark Howarth remains one of the recent contract extensions at the Marine Travel Arena although there aren’t any more in the pipeline but Off The Park understands discussions are ongoing internally.
Britton continues to be an inspired arrival after notching his third goal in a Marine shirt. Another positive from their important away win was the performance of then-17-year-old Will Johnson who signed on the eve of the trip on loan from Fleetwood Town.
“It’s bouncing back and showing all the quality that we should’ve shown a week before and what we’ve shown for most of the season,” Young explained.
“Atherton is a tough place to go, tough opponent who had a great win in midweek against Radcliffe, we were professional in what we did, worked hard, we’ve still got lads who’ve not played a lot of football, I think it was 10 players we had missing on Saturday and a young centre-back who came in and done excellent. A 1-0 away win, we’ll take that all day.
“Anyone who has ever been to Atherton will tell you it’s a tough place to go, lovely people, but it’s a really tough place to go to get victories.
“We stuck at it, I personally believe we should’ve been at least two up at half-time, we’ve had two great chances, Louis [Britton] has nicked one over the bar, Ben [Hodkinson] had one stuck under his feet which the goalkeeper has got down to save.
“They only had one chance which Bayleigh [Passant] saved with his feet and we scored a very good goal. In the second half they changed their shape, we changed our shape and we had two good opportunities to kill the game off but we didn’t. What we did was restrict them to very little.”
This weekend marks the rescheduled clash against Guiseley after the Yorkshire side had their request for postponement granted following an illness throughout the squad.
Young rejected the notion that the original postponement could be classed as a positive. At the time of their original clash, Paul Phillips was in the infancy of his tenure, Guiseley go into this weekend’s clash winning just two of their last six.
With the visit of the Lions, Young has praised the support this season after fans flocked in their record numbers but he has called on them to “make as much noise” as possible.
The Marine boss continued: “At that time, I think we were unbeaten in seven or eight matches. It depends what Guiseley is going to turn up, they’ve got good players, Paul knows the league well, I’ve listened to a few of his interviews and he’s frustrated – as we all are when we come into new clubs – it’s not as easy people think.
“It’s another game, a tough opponent, the good thing is we’re at home but the big thing for me now for the last 10 games, and they’ve been with us, but we need them to be with us even more now and that’s the supporters.
“Their support has been terrific but we have a really big march, a tough march, we look at the next game in Guiseley then travel to Matlock, Whitby, Gainsborough, we’ve got some real tough games coming up, we’re going to need everyone pulling in the same direction and making as much noise for the players as possible.
“We’ve got to improve again, there’s a way I want us to play going forward, I’ve not had the luxury of being able to pick a team.
“I think for the first time in a long time, I know what I’ve got unless something happens before Saturday, I’m not scampering around looking for players. I know where we are, we need to make a special mention for Will Johnson’s performance, people say it was brave to put him in – maybe was – but the performance of a boy who was 17 at the time was fantastic alongside Jonny, that helps with the headache.
“It’s all about us, we’ve got some big challenges but we’ve got some big players so hopefully the two together we can get to where we need to be.”