Frickley Athletic’s hopes of avoiding finishing fourth from bottom of the Evo-Stik Premier League are hanging by a thread after they could only draw their crucial home game last Saturday, but they could yet survive relegation by a different route.
Four teams are normally relegated from the Premier – two into the First Division North and two into the First Division South – but the resignation of Vauxhall Motors from the Football Conference has created an extra space in the pyramid structure that could result in only three sides going down this year.
It is expected that the club that finishes 21st in the three Step 3 divisions across the country (Evo-Stik Premier, Ryman Premier and Calor Premier) with the best points per game ratio will receive a reprieve from relegation.
Frickley currently have 45 points from 43 games with 20th placed Wingate & Finchley having 42 points from 42 games and 21st placed East Thurrock United having 39 points from 42, both in the Ryman Premier.
It looks like it will be between these three teams as FC Totton, who are 21st in the Calor Premier League, cannot reach the points per game ratio that the Blues have with that division playing two matches less.
The point gained, therefore, from the Blues’ 1-1 draw with Marine last Saturday could yet prove crucial and better than it might have first appeared, although it leaves them five points behind them in the Evo-Stik table with just three matches left to play this season.
Two of those will be played over Easter with Frickley knowing they need to keep going right to the final game to make sure they get as many points as possible even if they end up in the fourth from bottom position.
On Saturday the Blues are away to Rushall Olympic (kick-off 3pm) when they will be looking to make it a double over the side in eighth place, having beaten them 4-2 back in August when Gavin Allott bagged a hat-trick.
On Monday Frickley then play their last home league match of the season as they entertain Stocksbridge Park Steels at Westfield Lane (kick-off 3pm).
This game offers the Blues their best chance of more points with the visitors already relegated in second from bottom position with just 21 points from their 43 matches.
Athletic will be looking for a repeat of their victory away to Stocksbridge on Boxing Day, although they did need an injury-time winner from Allott on that occasion to ensure they came home with the points from a 4-3 win.