NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Can Soham Town Rangers pull off a great escape?
PUBLISHED: 11:29 19 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:32 19 April 2017
A month ago, Soham Town Rangers were sat in the Ryman North Division relegation zone and looked destined for the drop after a run of 16 league games without a win.
But now, just over one month and six games later, the Greens are the masters of their own fate thanks to dodging defeat in all of those games – and could seal a remarkable great escape this weekend in their final game of the campaign against second-placed Maldon & Tiptree at Julius Martin Lane (3pm).
Robbie Mason’s men now sit one place above the drop zone, knowing that they will secure their league status if they can better Heybridge Swifts’ result this weekend. The Swifts, who sit two points behind Soham, take on Phoenix Sports on Saturday afternoon.
Soham edged ever closer to safety thanks to securing two draws over the Easter weekend, but Mason will perhaps feel disappointed to have not tied up their safety before the final day after his side surrendered one-goal leads in both fixtures.
On Saturday, striker Sam Mulready continued his fine recent form with the opening goal against Tilbury, but the Essex outfit fired back from the spot in the second half.
And the Greens threw away a winning advantage again on Easter Monday, with Mulready finding the net in the first half once again - his seventh goal in eight games - only for Bury Town’s Josh Mayhew to deny the Greens a crucial three points with a leveller in the second period.
Soham could have – and perhaps should have – helped themselves to a bigger lead in Suffolk, with Mulready seeing a goal-bound header turned away by Bury stopper Neil O’Sullivan before the in-form frontman did give his side the advantage with a neat finish after he was played in by player-manager Mason.
Bury responded well and equalised just after the hour through Mayhew’s curling shot, before Joe Tennent came close to restoring Soham’s lead but couldn’t control his header.
Both sides had opportunities to snatch the points in the final minutes, with Niall Conroy denying Taylor Bannister and O’Sullivan halting a Soham counter-attack, but neither side could find the all-important third goal.
Soham’s now head into Saturday’s finale with one eye on Heybridge’s clash with Phoenix. If Heybridge can cause an upset and beat the side who are currently eighth in the standings, Soham would have to defy the odds themselves and beat a Maldon side unbeaten in their last five games.
If Heybridge draw or lose, then Soham are safe, regardless of the outcome of their match.