The Ryman Football League
Published 26th April 2012
.....League Division One North title race to the final day of the season.
Two weeks ago, with three games remaining, the Towners trailed Leiston by seven points, with the championship seemingly destined for Suffolk.
A 5-0 thrashing of local rivals Cheshunt, coupled with Leiston’s loss at Maldon & Tiptree, however, meant Newing’s side were still in with a chance of automatic promotion when the top two met on Saturday.
A draw for Leiston would have been sufficient and with the game in stalemate heading into injury time, the travelling support could be forgiven for thinking the title was theirs.
But a 90th minute penalty from Town’s top scorer Liam Hope ensured late drama, giving the Donkey Lane side maximum points and meaning the title will be decided on the final day of the campaign.
Enfield, who remain second in the table, will be looking to take three points from their trip to Grays Athletic while hoping Leiston slip up when they welcome Potters Bar Town.
And just as Newing stressed last week, it is another must win game for his side.
“It is the same,” explained the manager. “We can draw and then Potters Bar would need to win by five clear goals. Leiston’s goal difference is five better than ours.
“It is win or bust. We have had a win or bust situation for the last two weeks. It is no different this Saturday. We go to win on Saturday.”
He continued: “There was a belief that we needed to win this and take it to the last day. I just felt calm all week really. I wanted us to give a really good account of ourselves and we did.
“It was as dramatic as you could get. They were injury time away from winning the title. They were really deflated after the game. To be that close and then to have it taken away, I would have been gutted.
“They might have doubts in their mind but they are still overwhelming favourites to win the league.”
As Newing suggests, Leiston remain in pole position to secure automatic promotion but considering how the table looked just two games ago, it is to Town’s credit that they have taken the battle to the final day.
And the manager heaped praise on his squad for their efforts throughout the campaign.
“Whatever happens on Saturday, and whatever happens in the play-offs, the lads have been top draw this season,” he continued.
“The club has never got more than 80 points at Step Four. We have now got 87. The club has had its most successful season since it was reformed.
“I said at the start of the season my aim was to get promotion. We have got to the end of the season and it is still there. I just wish it was still in our hands.”
He added: “You can talk about statistics but if you don’t get promoted, it will be a bit of a kick in the teeth, but that is football. We have been first or second since the turn of the year.
“At the end of the day, it has been a great season and whatever happens, I am sure we will go from strength to strength.”