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FA cup dreams come true for "non-elite" Marine AFC

calendario 12.11.2020
by: Zach
  • England
FA cup dreams come true for "non-elite" Marine AFC

Merseyside’s Marine AFC pipped Colchester to the post with a nail-biting penalty shootout in the first round of the FA cup. The match, on November 7, occurred as a new wave of government restrictions force the “non-elite” steps 7-10 of English football into hibernation. 

The Marine AFC mariners formed one of the 10 “non-elite” clubs allowed to temporarily continue for FA cup runs. They rank 81 places below League 2 Colchester, in the Northern Premier League, the 8th tier of English football. In a way, the coronavirus chaos makes this victory all the sweeter for the Mariners, who progress to the second round of the cup for the first time in 28 years. 

Despite their underdog status in the draw, Marine dominated Colchester for the majority of the game. After a Josh Hmami freekick hit the woodwork, a tap in from Anthony Miley saw the Mariners take the lead in 21 minutes. They retained the lead and pressed their advantage until Colchester’s Harry Pell found an equaliser in the 64th. 

Ultimately, Marine FC kept their cool and defeated Colchester 5-3 on penalties. On top of Colchester’s ranking superiority, and their home-field advantage in the Colchester Community Stadium, they’re also season spot-kick victors. Last September, Colchester knocked Tottenham Hotspur out of the EFL cup 4-3 on penalties. The fact that, at the time of writing, Spurs are a close second from the top of the Premier League adds extra lustre to Marine’s already glowing achievement. 

Mariner manager Neil Young described the victory in no uncertain terms, stating that he’s “ecstatic, elated, all the words you can use”. The quote came amidst a circulation of rapturous scenes from the Marine dressing room, particularly those on Marine striker Mike Howard’s Instagram story.

The club has plenty of time to train for the FA cup’s next round as their league locks down through November. The third round sees the Mariners clash with National League South’s Havant and Waterlooville, who play a mere two leagues above them. Marine AFC may struggle to extend their nine-game unbeaten streak, as Havant and Waterlooville played in the league above until their relegation in 2019. 

Regardless, the next round offers hope and optimism to non-league fans on both sides of the elite/non-elite divide. With the National League’s Stockport progressing to the next round following a 2-1 victory over Rochdale, non-league football fans have matches to look forward to whether or not their preferred league is locked down. Keep an eye out for Marine’s next cup clash on November 28 which kicks off from 3 pm.

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