The Ryman Football League
Published 13th April 2012
....stressed his side will not be putting their feet up in the three remaining fixtures.
Easter Monday saw Town claim a 1-1 draw against Waltham Abbey but a 1-0 victory at Needham Market confirmed they will definitely be in the end of season lottery should Leiston claim the Ryman League Division One North title.
It is now a two-horse race to finish at the top of the table and although the Towners will need to overhaul a seven-point deficit, Newing emphasized that his squad will continue to push until it is mathematically out of their reach.
“With four games to go, if you know you are guaranteed a play-off place you are happy. If we had won yesterday we would have guaranteed second place,” the manager explained on Tuesday.
“We will be thinking that until we cannot win the league, we will still be trying to win it. If and when we secure second place but cannot win the league, the last two games are not so important and it will be about preparing the squad. We have got a bit of flexibility now.”
He added: “I am a realist. We can still win the title but it is a long shot. Even if we had won yesterday, it would still have been a long shot.
“You would expect Leiston to pick the points up. Until the games are finished next Saturday, we will still be looking to win the league.”
Town visit former landlords Cheshunt on Saturday while Leiston travel to Maldon & Tiptree, knowing that a win would secure them the title.
If the race is still on when the teams meet at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium the following week, a further victory for Town would see the champions decided on the final day of the campaign.
Monday’s draw however, means that Newing’s side are guaranteed at least fourth place, although given the gap back to Needham in third, a runner-up position looks most likely.
It goes without saying that the manager wants his side to finish strongly but he does not buy into the argument of an advantage in carrying momentum into a play-off scenario, believing it is not the only factor which could give a side an edge.
“To be in the play-offs was the first objective which was achieved,” he said.
“We have got eighty-one points and that is the most the club has ever achieved at Step 4. It has not been a bad season so far.”
He continued: “It comes down to 90 minutes of football where a refereeing decision or a little bit of luck can cost you. That is the way it is but you would rather be in the play-offs (than miss out).
“We know play-offs are confirmed and we know that the fourth place is confirmed. If we don’t finish second we will be going into the play-offs on a bad run of form but that doesn’t bother me.”
Saturday saw Bryan Hammatt’s header earn Enfield maximum points but Walid Matata struck late on to earn them a point against Abbey after they had seen Michael Ewang sent off on the stroke of half time.
Newing conceded he was disappointed not to see his side claim six points from the Easter double-header but admitted it was a tough pairing of fixtures.
“What we were hoping for was all six points but it was always going to be difficult. They were both difficult games,” he said.
“That is football. We didn’t manage to win yesterday when we should have done. If we had taken our chances we would have won.”