Royals battle for a point to secure their place in the NPL
A point proved to be enough for the Royals after Corby faltered on the last day of the season.
Sutton Coldfield Town made the long trip to Workington for the final fixture of the season with the optimists among the travelling supporters hoping for a positive outcome and the pessimists believing that relegation rivals, Corby Town, would do enough at Coalville to secure their place in the NPL Premier League at the expense of the Royals. The added edge for the home side was that Workington were looking for a victory and three points to give them a home game in the play off semi finals.
The opening exchanges were understandably edgy with the visitors defence staying firm under early pressure from Workington. Michael Townsend and Nat Kelly were defending well and keeper James Wren was handling anything that got passed the Sutton back four.
The mood in the visitor's camp was lifted in the 15th minute with news of Coalville taking the lead against Corby and what felt like seconds later came the news that Coalville had doubled their lead. This was exactly what the Royals needed if they were to escape relegation but there was still much to do to keep Workington at bay. Chances were made by the home side but were being spurned or dealt with by resolute defending by Sutton who themselves were offering only occasional threat at the other end of the park.
The second half continued in similar vein although Sutton were able to create chances themselves with both Ryan Robbins and Josh Venney going close. Then came news of a third goal for Coalville so it was clear that Sutton needed at least a point from the game. It would have taken just one slip or mistake to let Workington in to sway the balance away from Sutton and back in favour of Corby but the defending was superb and there was simply no way through for the home side. When James Wren pulled off a fine save with a few minutes to go, even the home side and their fans realised that this was not going to the win that they needed.
After five minutes of injury time (which felt more like 55), the referee's full time whistle was greeted with celebration by everyone in blue with players and management joining their following supporters in gleeful scenes. Sutton had escaped the drop and can look forward to another season in the top flight of the NPL.
The coach journey home will be remembered by all on board as a very special time that will live long in the memory. The celebrations included a phone call to Club President Bernard Bent and hopefully the singing tribute that he heard will make up a little for him not being with us on the day due to ill health.
The players and staff will now enjoy the break having achieved what at one stage looked very unlikely if not impossible.