Warrington Rylands manager in NPL West title chase
FOR the first time since catapulting themselves into title contention, the fate of Warrington Rylands is entirely in their hands.
Although the teams around them have games in progress, the Blues know that wins in the remaining four games of their season will see them automatically promoted from the Northern Premier League West Division.
The race took a big turn in their favor last time out, with Rylands taking a win at Ramsbottom while nearest rivals Workington and Marine both dropped points.
David Webb celebrates the Rylands winner at Ramsbottom on Saturday. Photo by Mark Percy
It means Dave McNabb’s side, who are now mathematically assured of a play-off place at worst, will enter tomorrow’s clash with Runcorn Linnets – potential opponents in the end-of-season upset if they don’t finish not in the lead – with more respite. at the top.
They lead second-placed Workington, who have played two fewer games, by four points, while third-placed Marine, one point behind, has played one fewer game than Rylands.
What the top of the NPL West Division looks like ahead of this weekend’s fixtures
The Blues also travel to Workington next Saturday in what could well prove to be a title decider, but McNabb insists the focus is on hosting neighboring Linnets.
“One thing you want to be is in control of your own destiny,” he said.
“With all the races for titles, promotion, play-offs and such, they take a lot of twists and turns.
“Last weekend was one, but I don’t expect it to be the last. I think there will be even more plot twists.
“All we can do is keep winning to put ourselves in the best possible position to go as far as possible.
“I think we’re in a much more positive position because it’s in our hands. We have some very, very tough games ahead, but also Workington and Marine.
The remaining fixtures for the NPL West’s top four
“We can’t start thinking about Workington – for us it’s all about Linnets.
“They’re an in-form team in the league and it’s going to be an incredibly tough game.
“I was really impressed with them the last time we played them and when I’ve seen them since then they are incredibly organised.
“It’s the only game that matters to us right now.”
Runcorn arrives at Gorsey Lane on a seven-game league unbeaten streak and having already beaten the Blues this season – a 2-0 win in the second leg in November.
Rylands were beaten 2-0 by tomorrow’s opponents Runcorn Linnets in the second leg in November. Photo by Mark Percy
However, Rylands have only lost twice in the league since then and appear to be hitting their peak at exactly the right time having won their last seven games.
With experienced players who have taken part in promotion battles much higher up the pyramid and youngsters who have thrived in the high-pressure environment of last year’s run to FA Vase glory, McNabb believes that he has the right group to handle the situation.
“I think we have very experienced players who have been in this kind of situation before,” he said.
“We also have a hard core that has been with us for a long time and knows what we are waiting for.
“A lot of the squad were playing high pressure games in the vase for us last year, so they are well aware that the most important game you play is the next one.
“I don’t think I could ask for a better group to go through the process with. It’s about us trying to use what we have.
“Even young players have a good experience about them and there’s an element of fearlessness in the fact that they’ve never experienced this sort of thing before.”