Mark Carruthers: Why Marske United are one of - if not the - story of the North East non-league scene this season

Make no mistake about it - Marske United are one of, if not the story of the North East non-league scene this season.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 11:57 am
Mark Carruthers returns with his new column.

At the time of writing, The Seasiders sit top of the Northern Premier League East Division are a level on points with Liversedge after losing dropping just five points in their opening 15 games of the campaign.

They are averaging just under three points a game in the league and top goalscorer Adam Boyes has a remarkable 32 goals in all competitions.

Their run to the fourth and final qualifying round of the FA Cup saw them plunder their way to 20 goals in four ties as they saw off Pickering Town and Seaham Red Star, before producing shock wins against higher-ranked South Shields and Chester.

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Only an in-form Gateshead prevented them from secure a first ever visit to the first round of the competition - but not before the National League North promotion contenders were held to a goalless draw at Mount Pleasant.

The work was far from over for the Heed as they had to battle their way past Carl Jarrett’s men with a 3-2 win at the International Stadium where Mike Williamson’s side were pushed to the brink.

Following Tuesday night’s 5-0 hammering of Bridlington Town in the league, Marske turn their focus to another competition this weekend as they look to claim yet another scalp to add to an ever-increasing list.

The Seasiders have reached the second round of the competition for only the second time in their history and will be looking to reach the third round for the first time when they visit Northern Premier League Premier Division leaders Matlock Town.

Despite facing an admittedly difficult challenge in Derbyshire, there can be no doubt Marske will travel with the belief they can write their names into the club’s history books with a surprise win.

Who can blame them?

Their run to the second round has already brought comfortable wins against Glossop North End and Bridlington Town, as well as a 3-2 home win against Premier Division side FC United of Manchester.

A visit to Matlock will hold no fear for a Marske side firing on all cylinders.

As for what lies ahead, who knows?

But in this form, you wouldn’t rule out another step up the non-league pyramid and the continuation of the progress made under Carl Jarrett and his coaching team.

It should not be forgotten it is only six years since they won their first Northern League title and only three years since they were promoted into step four after a remarkable end to the season.

At one stage, the Seasiders were 27 points behind leaders Morpeth Town - but a stunning 13-game unbeaten run put together in just 23 days overhauled the Highwaymen and took the title to Mount Pleasant for a second time in four seasons.

The majority of their title-winning squad forms the foundations of the side that is shining so brightly in their fourth season in the Northern Premier League.

Jarrett’s recruitment has been exemplary and the quality he has added to his ranks has firmly established his side as one of the most dangerous sides across the two tiers of the Northern Premier League.

A first season in step four ended with a solid tenth placed finish and even two Covid-impacted campaigns could not hamper the momentum built up.

It simply allowed them to regroup, reassess and re-energise in preparation for their unrelenting assault on the East Division title this season.

There have been hints at the potential for promotion with cup competition wins against higher-ranked opposition like Blyth Spartans, Warrington Town, South Shields and FC United of Manchester.

A number of players within the Seasiders ranks have experience of life higher up non-league’s food chain and their experience will benefit their side when, not if, they gain promotion in the near-future.

The likes of the ever-prolific Boyes, Dale Hopson, Matty Tymon, Craig Gott and Kevin Burgess all know what it takes in the Premier Division and beyond - and they will help their team-mates flourish.

There can be no doubt this Marske side are the real deal and exciting times lie ahead, no matter what happens at Matlock this weekend.

Marske are not the only North East club in FA Trophy second round action this weekend.

Nor are they the only ones to receive a challenging draw.

To say the second round draw had been unkind for clubs in our region would be something of an understatement after all six sides received difficult tests.

Blyth Spartans, Darlington and Gateshead all face away days at National League North rivals York City, Southport and AFC Fylde respectively.

Morpeth Town visit Northern Premier League Premier Division counterparts Warrington Town and, as mentioned earlier, Marske travel to Premier Division leaders Matlock Town in one of the ties of the round.

Spennymoor Town are the only one of our clubs to receive a home tie - but even their task is far from straightforward as they entertain a Chorley side currently sat in third place in the National League North table.

All six North East sides will have to be at their best if they are to take their place in Monday’s third round draw alongside National League clubs - and that is where the competition really becomes interesting.

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