FC Nelson one win from title
‘‘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.
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.’’