A subdued John Flanagan concedes Curzon Ashton’s play-off hopes are fading fast as defeat at the weekend left the Tamesiders’ relying on favours from rival teams.
After losing to Radcliffe Borough at Stainton Park, the Blues are now two places and three points outside the play-off zone with three games remaining.
And despite admitting the odds are now stacked against his side, Flanagan insists his players will continue to fight and hope results elsewhere go their way.
“We’ve made it so it’s completely out of our hands, with everyone else needing to shoot themselves in the foot,” he said.
“Realistically there is one place up for grabs and that’s between Mossley, Clitheroe, Cammell Laird and ourselves and we’re in the weakest position of the four.
“I can’t see us getting in but we’ll go out there and do our best in our remaining games – that’s all we can do.
“There are teams above us now that will have to do a lot wrong not to get in there but we’ll keep our fingers crossed as we are relying on teams helping us out.”
Curzon were one of the favourites for promotion from Evo-Stik League Division One North this season after missing out to Witton Albion in last April’s play-off final.
And their latest defeat to bottom-half side Radcliffe was particularly hard for the former Woodley Sports boss to stomach given the importance of securing three points.
“I was very disappointed with the result on Saturday but more so with the performance – we just didn’t get out the blocks,” he added.
“I watched Radcliffe in the week building up to the game and I knew we were up against a typical Radcliffe team who were playing for very little other than their own pride.
“It was all there for us to go and get the points we needed but I was really disappointed with our inability to defend on the day.”
Striker Kristian Dennis – who has netted 40 league goals this season – was only fit enough for the bench at the weekend.
And Flanagan reserved special praise for the 20-year-old former Macclesfield forward who has been voted the division’s player of the year.
“Saturday was an example of his influence – he didn’t start the game as he had a niggling injury and we missed him,” he said.
“He’s such a bright player and one of those lads who gets into the right places and scores goals.
“All credit to him. He had a good season last year and he’s had an even better campaign this time.
“I can’t speak too highly enough of the lad. He’s been fantastic and no trouble at all.”
Picture courtesy of Graham Lindley, with thanks