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Adam Yates reports from an exhausted Marine Travel Arena as a near 1800 crowd saw Marine progress through to Monday’s Play Off Final with a narrow 1-0 win over local rivals Warrington Rylands.

A Sol Solomon goal was the narrow margin in what was a tense semi-final encounter between two sides who excelled defensively but ultimately it was the Mariners who emerged victorious.

As kick off neared, all eyes were on the possible side Neil Young would decide on. Josh Wardle returned as skipper having missed the league finale at Ashton United and Louis White was favoured over Finlay Sinclair-Smith in a surprise change to his favoured formation.

The tactic seemed to be paying off as the game began with heavy possession, solid defensive work and attacking prowess from the hosts.

Harvey Gregson seemed like a man possessed chasing down balls he had no right to chase, provoking applause from the crowd for his efforts. A half chance in the box via a Gregson stretched leg was one of the few shots on target but Warrington keeper Luke Pilling claimed the attempt with minimal effort.

Rylands began to get a foothold in the game deeper in the first half and it was clear why they had the best defensive record in the league as their back line was preventing any genuine Marine chances. Javid Swaby-Neavin and James Butler were standouts for the visitors throughout.

The initial 45 minutes ticked away and no team had troubled each other’s goal line and the last chance of the first half came to Louis White who couldn’t add an eleventh goal to his season tally and his long range shot went into the stand.

The second half began in the opposite fashion to the first with Warrington threatening Bobby Jones and his goal. The home crowd collectively breathed a sigh of relief when DJ Pedro found himself one on one with Jones but missed the target and was then found to be offside.

Minutes later, a breakthrough…

Harvey Gregson and Owen Robinson chased down a ball near the corner flag in the Rylands half. Robinson led a charge through the defence via a nutmeg and squared it inside the box where Bobby Grant was waiting. Grant was unable to claim but Sol Solomon latched onto the loose ball and fired it past Pilling and the MTA erupted.

With Warrington on the back foot and Marine on the hunt for a second, Neil Young then brought on Sinclair-Smith in place of White. Fin had a chance shortly after but his shot went over the bar. Gregson continued to hunt down opposing players and provoke errors in their passing and the likes of Chris Doyle and Josh Wardle were heading away any possible goal threat that came their way.

As the final whistle approached, the fans began to dream and will the team on but Rylands launched countless balls into the Marine half looking in desperation for an equaliser. Crosses from wide were dangerous but no man in blue could claim the chances. Liam Nolan came on late for the goalscorer Solomon to shore up the backline and cleared multiple balls from harm including one that flew out of the ground and onto College Road itself.

Thankfully, the whistle blew and the Mariners celebrated. A 23rd clean sheet in all competitions and this was possibly the sweetest one of them all. The team was already aware of the next task ahead of them as they must now revisit Macclesfield on Bank Holiday Monday where the winner joins Radcliffe in the National League North next season.

 Marine: 1 Bobby Jones, 2 Scott Butler, 3 Freddie Sass, 4 Harvey Gregson, 5 Chris Doyle, 6 Josh Wardle, 7 Owen Robinson, 8 Jack Bainbridge, 9 Bobby Grant (Owen Windsor 90’+4), 10 Sol Solomon (Liam Nolan 87′), 11 Louis White (Finlay Sinclair-Smith 65′)

Subs: 12 Finlay Sinclair-Smith, 14 Jon Routledge, 15 Owen Windsor, 16 Matty Waters, 17 Liam Nolan

Warrington Rylands: 1 Luke Pilling, 2 Clive Smith, 3 Javid Swaby-Neavin, 4 James Neild, 5 James Butler, 6 Dean Furman, 7 Ben Hardcastle (Mark Duffy 73′), 8 Ben Hough (James Baillie 87′), 9 Djavan Pedro, 10 Momodou Touray, 11 Sam Burns (Daniel Cockerline 73′)

Subs: 12 Liam Brockbank, 14 Jai Curran-Nicholls, 15 Mark Duffy, 16 James Baillie, 17 Daniel Cockerline

Northern Premier League – Premier Division Play-off Semi Final

Tuesday 30th April 2024

Kick-off: 7.45pm

Referee: Alex Beckett

The Marine Travel Arena

Attendance: 1,779

Man of the Match – Harvey Gregson



The Marine Travel Arena
College Rd, Crosby, Liverpool, England, L23 3AS, United Kingdom