NCEL BLOG: Shaw Lane have one hand on the league trophy, as Worksop and Tadcaster pray for a miracle

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Shaw Lane Aquaforce have one hand on the NCEL Premier Division trophy with just eight days of the league season remaining.

The Barnsley men, who have three games left to play, are three points clear of second placed Worksop Town, with a game in hand.

Tadcaster Albion have also got a hat-trick of fixtures remaining, and lie one point back from Tigers.

Wins for the teams in second and third, who will play Maltby Main and Cleethorpes respectively on Saturday, will extend the title race into the final week.

But should Shaw Lane pick up six points from Saturday’s visit of Nostell, and Tuesday’s game at home to Cleethorpes, they will be champions.

Ninety-three points is the magic total that neither Worksop nor Tadcaster can reach.

But with a goal difference far superior to Tadcaster’s, you’d imagine a win and two draws would do it for Aquaforce.

So it will take something of a miracle for either Paul Marsh’s Albion or Mark Shaw’s Worksop to escape this division.

Worksop, for example, need to win both their fixtures, hope Aquaforce lose at least twice, and bring about a seven-goal swing.

Albion are coming off a 4-1 beating by Saturday’s opponents Cleethorpes in the League Cup, so can expect a tough test this weekend.

And of course the final day of the season pits Tadcaster against Worksop, in what is likely to be a battle for second place.

Despite there only being one promotion place, that final day won’t be entirely meaningless should Shaw Lane already have the trophy.

You just never know what the summer will bring, as Tigers supporters found out last year.

Should there be any reason, as unlikely as it may seem, that Shaw Lane can’t go up, then the team in second place will benefit.

Regardless, neither Marsh nor Shaw will want to end the season on a bum note.

It’s just a shame that those two rivals, and the likes of the overachieving Cleethorpes, the solid Heanor and the bang-in-form Handsworth couldn’t be gearing up for what would be an intriguing play-off contest.

At the next step up the pyramid reprieves are being handed out like election leaflets, and it’s an odd quirk of this game that failing, or at least struggling teams, are given a lifeline, when aspiring, successful teams from the division below could be rewarded.

One promotion place makes it a big, big ask to get out of this division.

But everyone knew that before we kicked off in August, and there can be no gripes come 2nd May if Shaw Lane are home and hosed as the winners.

Tadcaster at one stage looked the best bet for the title.

And Worksop will point to last gasp equalisers conceded against Cleethorpes, Garforth, and Tadcaster - goals that cost them six points and potentially the title.

Both sides will have some regrets and results they rue bitterly, especially in the light of the two 0-0 draws the leaders played out earlier this month, when the door creaked open ever so slightly.

For now, however, the chasing pair can only afford to think about the points left on offer, snap them up and pray for a Shaw Lane collapse of Newcastle United circa 1996 proportions.