FC Nelson has slid into poll position to lift this year’s Nelson Bays Football first division title without even tying up their boot laces.
FC Nelson picked up three points on Saturday for the bye game, moving it one point clear of Richmond Athletic which lost to Nelson College last Wednesday night.
With one round remaining, FC Nelson will win the league if they beat fifth-placed Wakefield at Guppy Park this Saturday.
Richmond will travel to Tahuna FC at the same time, but after leading the league throughout the entire season will now need a favour from its Waimea Plains neighbours to win the competition.
FC Nelson coach Paul Brydon says his team has “slid through the back door”, making up eight points on Richmond after the departure of three English imports, including National League golden boot Ben Harris.
“On paper we had a good side, so I always thought once those guys from Richmond left we’d have a chance. We needed to beat them and we did and then some other teams like Tahuna and Nelson College did us a favour.”
If Richmond co-coach Steve Clark can point to a single moment of the season that has cost his team its spot at the top of the table with a game remaining, it is surely when it dropped two points to Tahuna FC in the final minutes of the game.
Up 3-1, Richmond conceded two late goals to draw 3-3.
“If you were going to review the season, that’s the only time the lads have let themselves down. Apart from that we have no criticism of the lads whatsoever.”
He says the team is still positive despite the drop in form.
“We’ve kept things positive. We’ve had a good season and we have to admit that things have gone against us and the pendulum has definitely swung back in their favour. If they go on, good luck to them, they would have thoroughly deserved it.”
Not that he was dismissing a “niggly” Wakefield side pulling off an upset. “We have a real good relationship with the guys at Wakefield so we’re hoping they can do something for us.”
Paul concedes the season is far from over with Wakefield recently knocking FC Nelson out of the Price Charity Cup.
“We know what [Wakefield] are like, they’re a hard, bustling side. They’ll have a go at us and they’d love to beat us. But we have 90 minutes to do the job.”
He says his team has plenty of experience and that should help them prepare for the final game of the league.
“We still have to keep our feet on the ground. Treat it like a cup final, we still have to win it. I’ve seen these situations like this before when teams have slipped.”
FC Nelson play Wakefield this Saturday at Guppy Park, kick off at 3pm.
Steve had one final remark: “C’mon Wakefield”.