Newquay close in on safety
NEWQUAY AFC manager Tony Mackellar has dangled the carrot of league safety in front of his players, challenging them to catch Witheridge and remove any doubt surrounding relegation.
The Peppermints closed in on 18th placed Withy after beating them twice in the space of seven days, both home and away, to earn a vital six points that also saw them pull a nine point gap over bottom side St Blazey.
Mackellar’s team were handed a lifeline last week as Tiverton Town Reserves signalled their intent to withdraw from the league meaning, as things stand, only one team will be dropping from the South West Peninsula Premier to Division One West.
However, despite official confirmation of Tiverton’s withdrawal coming yesterday lunchtime, the former Godolphin Atlantic and Foxhole Stars boss is targeting that 18th place finish and definite safety.
He said: “You can never take anything for granted. We thought if we could get that one more win and Tiverton do go then we will be safe. We won against Witheridge and I can’t see Blazey coming back from where they are to catch us. We felt it was a really important three points that could just about see us over the finish line. We have beaten Witheridge so can we now catch them? We are setting small targets and said if we can get five or six points out of the remaining six games, we could catch them and that wouldn’t put anything in doubt. You never know with the league but our target is to catch Witheridge now.
“There are a couple of games that we think we can get something from but we have some tough ones in there. We have St Austell, Saltash and Exmouth home and away. Some teams have something to play for and others haven’t. The ones that haven’t, what is their motivation going to be? We want a positive end to the season. Since December, where we made improvements, our record isn’t bad. If we were to start the league from December we would be mid-table.
“There is work happening on and off the pitch. People forget that, at the beginning of the season, we had something like 12 out of the first 13 games away. We are all taking steps forward to get there and everything is looking positive. Staying up was the aim, whether it be by default, we don’t care with the start we had. We have played several teams above us and I think we are better then them. With the problems we had we have never had a chance to perform on a level platform with them. If we had done that from day one I don’t think we would be in the position we are in. If Tiverton do go, it means we get to play at this level for another season and it’s easier to build from the Premier than it is from Division One West.
“It is a three stage thing, I have said that from day one, next season will be stage two. We will look to build again, getting three or four new players in, but we may lose a few along the way to make us stronger. That is a natural progression. If stage two goes to plan then we will look to progress but if it doesn’t then I will be going mental again and pulling my hair out! It is good for the team and good for the town if we stay in there. Nobody wants to see the local derby against Godolphin go. It is a good money earner for both sides and is as good for them as it is for us.”
After last night’s Mount Wise clash against St Austell, Newquay end the season with three consecutive away games before two straight home matches. Trips to Saltash United, Godolphin Atlantic and Exmouth Town precede games against Exmouth and Falmouth Town at Mount Wise. Despite a far more negative goal difference then anybody else in the league, six more points could finally confirm Newquay's Premier Division status for another year - something Mackellar has targeted all along and may just rank as his biggest achievement to date.