FRICKLEY Athletic's final-day victory over Stafford Rangers wasn't enough to haul them out of the Evo-Stik Premier Division bottom four - but it could be enough to see the Blues avoid relegation.
The Blues needed three points from their final game of the season and to hope other results, including a big swing in goal difference, went their way on Saturday afternoon.
Peter Rinkcavage's men kept their side of the bargain with a 4-3 win over Rangers which saw them leapfrog Chasetown, but they couldn't overtake Stocksbridge Park Steels on goal difference. Whitby Town's back-to-back wins, against Matlock Town on Thursday night and Buxton on Saturday, ensured their safety.
But the three points against Stafford could yet prove vital for the South Elmsall club. Northwich Victoria are currently appealing a decision by the Evo-Stik League to terminate their membership at the end of the season for breaking league rules. Should their appeal fail, the league is expected to cut the number of relegated teams from four to three, ensuring Frickley's safety.
The game itself saw the Blues surged into a 3-0 lead thanks to three first-half goals in the space of seven minutes to leave their visitors stunned. Stuart Ludlam, Danny South and Brad Grayson found the back of the net. Rangers reduced the deficit just before half-time but South added his second on the resumption to leave the hosts firmly in control.
The Blues were left to sweat late on when a Mark Gray own goal and Robert Stevenson strike pulled Stafford to within a goal of a dramatic late comeback, but Rinkcavage's men held on to finish the season with a win.
The Evo-Stik League is expected to make a decision on Northwich Victoria's membership this week.
See next week's Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express for all the latest Frickley Athletic news.