FC Nel­son one win from ti­tle

The Leader (Nelson) - - YOUR HEALTH - PHILLIP ROLLO

‘‘It’s never over un­til it’s over,’’ FC Nel­son coach Paul Bry­don said after his side were stunned 3-1 by Nel­son Col­lege last month.

The loss, at that stage, left them trail­ing Richmond Ath­letic by four com­pe­ti­tion points with just four rounds re­main­ing.

FC Nel­son’s ti­tle bid had taken a se­ri­ous hit.

But Bry­don was not about to give up hope.

He knew that Richmond had the tougher run in of the two sides, also need­ing to play Nel­son Col­lege, who, de­spite be­ing out of the ti­tle con­ver­sa­tion them­selves, were peak­ing for the New Zealand sec­ondary schools foot­ball cham­pi­onships.

Richmond lost that game 3-0 last week, which, com­bined with their 3-3 draw with Tahuna a fort­night ear­lier, means FC Nel­son are not just back in the hunt, but the ti­tle is now theirs to lose, one point clear with one game to go.

‘‘Richmond have dropped the ball a wee bit and left the back door open for us, so we just have to cap­i­talise this week­end.

‘‘I knew they would strug­gle against Col­lege be­cause they are peak­ing be­fore tour­na­ment, and they played re­ally well against us and beat us,’’ Bry­don said.

‘‘But as I said then, it’s not over un­til it’s over.

‘‘We are rapt we are in this sit­u­a­tion but we’ve still got a job to do this week.’’

For FC Nel­son, the equa­tion is sim­ple head­ing into the fi­nal day of the sea­son.

Beat fifth-placed Wake­field at Guppy Park on Satur­day and FC Nel­son will be crowned di­vi­sion one foot­ball cham­pi­ons for the first time since 2013.

FC Nel­son have beaten Wake­field 6-1 on two oc­ca­sions al­ready in the league this year.

But they did suf­fer a shock loss in the open­ing round of the Price Charity Cup and it is that re­sult that will have Bry­don on no­tice.

How­ever, the ex­pe­ri­enced coach is still back­ing his team to get the job done.

‘‘They’ll be up for it. They would like to turn us over.

‘‘But the good thing is we had the week­end off and we’re at full strength so we’d be dis­ap­pointed if we don’t win it.

‘‘But you never know. There’s ev­ery­thing to play for,’’ Bry­don said.

‘‘They’ll be fired up and I don’t think they will park the bus.

‘‘I think they will try and play. So we just have to keep do­ing what we are do­ing be­cause we have been play­ing some good foot­ball this year.

‘‘At the start of the sea­son, with the squad we’ve had, I thought we would win the league be­cause we have five or six guys who have played Main­land foot­ball, Labu [Pan] has played na­tional league and we’ve got a lot of ta­lent there.’’

Richmond, who spent 12 weeks at the top of the ta­ble and looked un­beat­able with English im­ports Joey Turner, Ben Har­ris and Tom Hickey in their side, take on Tahuna in their fi­nal round match.

PHILLIP ROLLO/STUFF

FC Nel­son’s Izaak Cun­ning­ham and Richmond Ath­letic’s Ch­ester Gaskin com­pete for a header dur­ing their di­vi­sion one foot­ball clash last month.

‘‘We are rapt we are in this sit­u­a­tion but we've still got a job to do this week.’’

Paul Bry­don

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