Analysis: AFC Telford's survival race may go to the final day
Are AFC Telford United going to stay in National League North? That is the big question.
Most fans would have said yes following Thursday’s 3-2 triumph against Spennymoor Town at the New Bucks Head.
There was a stellar showing from Ryan Giles, a boosted crowd thanks to the club allowing under-19s in for free and the Bucks showed a great amount of resilience.
A fantastic night, maybe the best win under Rob Edwards.
It was so good but, especially given the quick turnaround, it is not surprising things did not go similarly against Chorley.
Telford have struggled to string together positive results on a consistent basis, hence being third bottom, and some of the players appeared to tire in the second half against the Magpies.
They were not particularly bad, you could argue they deserved a point. But as Bucks chief Edwards said afterwards, it is hard to say they should have got something given the way they defended for Chorley’s second goal.
Now more supporters feel their side will not survive.
Telford are on 41 points with six games to go. They are adrift on goal difference.
For context, they ended the 2016/17 campaign on 42 points.
Edwards wanted the Bucks to make progress from last term and, numerically, they probably will – but it might not be enough.
You would like to think three wins from their remaining six games, reaching that magic 50-point mark, would do it.
However, it seems likely it will all be settled on the final day of the season.
The game was in doubt as several volunteers were forking the wet pitch throughout the morning amid persistent rain. Confirmation it was going ahead as planned finally came 40 minutes prior to kick-off, with the turnstiles then opened.
The away side struggled to get into a rhythm on the boggy surface, Telford dealt with the conditions better and forced Matt Urwin – who had a spell on loan at the Bucks last year – into a few saves.
Not a great period of football, but Edwards would have been pleased with what he saw. His charges were comfortable.
Telford continued to look the brighter outfit after the restart.
Amari Morgan-Smith headed straight at Urwin after a fine Giles cross, but they soon ran out of steam.
Amidst the fight for points was a battle between brothers.
Twins Elliot Newby of the Bucks and Alex of the Magpies were each wearing No.7, and the latter put the visitors ahead with a cool left-footed finish.
The hosts made a couple of substitutions in an attempt to freshen things up going forward, but Chorley swiftly added a second.
It was Marcus Carver who capitalised on some statuesque defending, firing in after being allowed a lot of time and space to turn.
Josh Wilson, who was Telford’s top scorer under Rob Smith last season, got the assist too.
The Bucks’ Newby followed in the footsteps of his sibling by scoring – from the penalty spot, after substitute Kane Richards was fouled in the area – but it proved too little too late.
It was frustrating as the Magpies put away the only major opportunities they had, but that is the difference between a side competing for the play-offs to one scrapping for their lives.
Telford are hoping to come up with some more Thursday night magic when they take on Leamington – another club in the dogfight.
It is fair to bill it as must-win for the Bucks, who were 3-0 victors in the reverse fixture.