Is an unlikely promotion on the cards?

‘First of all Vince, I’d like to say how delighted the board are with your running of the team’ Miguel Martins, the club’s chairman says

‘Thank you for that Mr. Chairman’ I reply

‘No I mean it, you’re doing a fantastic job. I also wanted to say, that no matter what happens in the next stage of the league, this season has gone down as a fantastic one’

‘Well I’m trying my best to make sure we finish as strongly as possible. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect us to be where we are right now’

‘That’s the spirit, now the only thing I will say to you, and don’t take this the wrong way, but you can go out there and continue on this season without any pressure on your shoulders. We’re not getting relegated and no matter where we finish, it will be the highest league finish in Oleiros history’

I’m pleased the chairman is backing me, and why shouldn’t he? We’re overachieving, long may that continue, and if I left today I can leave knowing that I’m the reason behind ARC Oleiros having their best ever season.

As the good feedback from the chairman comes, so does some disappointing news, with confirmation that father time has caught up with Philip Chidi as he announces his retirement. The decision was obviously based on his season ending injury sustained a couple of months ago, but when you know it’s time to call it a day, then you can’t really argue with that. His 12 goals in 17 league games really propelled us not only this season but his goals helped keep us up last season. He will be missed.

As for the clubs form, we certainly continued showing we’re a force to be reckoned with this season. Of the 12 games out of the remaining 14 we played, we lost 2, drew 4 and won 6, not only cementing our place at the top of Group B, but leaving us only 1 more win to secure an unlikely promotion.

Pre game team talk

‘You’ve all done magnificently to get this far, as you know we need 1 more win to guarantee promotion to Ledman Liga Pro. If we don’t get it today there’s no need to panic, no matter what we’ve given this club it’s best ever finish to a league season, not only that but there’s 1 more game to play, and there’s a very high chance we’ll get in the play offs anyway. But be professional, don’t get complacent, we’ve already beaten Mafra 3-1 away this season, let’s do the job at home yeah!’

The team go out to the corridor and wait for the ref and linesmen. As they do I walk out to the pitch alone, the Oleiros fans either side of the tunnel are cheering and clapping, I can sense the excitement in the air already. As I make my way to the dugout, I look around, and as usual this small stadium isn’t full, it hardly ever is, maybe when we get promoted we’ll actually see a sell out? Who knows, all I know is I want to win this game.

I’ve got to guide this team to a win here, or if not here we must win our final game and hope Uniao Sintrense, and their manager, West Ham reject Luis Boa Morte don’t win their final 2 games. We finish in the top 2 and we’re promoted, but if we finish top we get to play in the Champions Play off game, and if we win that then we’ll officially have won this division.

We really took the initiative in this game. The first half whilst you could say was even all round we had a higher number of shots and overall more possession, it’s just we couldn’t make the breakthrough and went in at the half still drawing nil nil.

Half time

As the team are sat in the dressing room, I stand outside with Ruben Parraga ‘ Do you think we should even change anything at all?’

‘No, we should keep plugging away as we have they’ll crack eventually’ he replies

‘I’m wary of counter attacks though’

‘I’m not, we should keep at it, we’re the stronger team here, they won’t want to get beat 3-1 again’

The second half was much like the first, we dominated for long spells of the game before grabbing a well deserved goal in the 75th minute

‘What now Vince? Do we keep attacking or sit back? Ruben asks

‘Drop 1 of the forwards, get Miguel on the pitch in the water carrier role’

‘The what?!’

‘The water, hang on you’ve never heard it called that before?’

‘No, what is it?’

‘I’ll explain why it’s called that some time, but it’s the defensive midfield role in front of the defenders, the anchor man’

‘Ahh right got ya’ and with that tells Miguel to get on the pitch.

Since the goal Mafra get back into the game, and have a couple of half decent chances that go wide. The players are nervous, I can tell.

I’m screaming tighten up & concentrate constantly to the players. We’ve not got long left, we can hold on for this.

In the 88th minute we nearly fell apart. The ball was played long, one of those awful hanging balls that defenders hate. We half clear it but it falls out wide, then get swung in and unbelievably they had a man wide open just a yard or so away from the penalty spot.

He jumped and heads the ball, when really he could’ve controlled it and took a shot, but he heads it towards goal and Carlos Espinoza pulls out an absolute worldie of a save to his left hand side to keep the score at 1-0.

The ref blows for full time, we’ve done it. We’ve done it! We’ve only gone and got promoted to the Ledman Liga Pro!

‘Carlos, absolutely incredible save there, you’ve won the game for us with that’

‘Thanks boss’

‘We won’t address the fact they had a man wide open near the end, just enjoy today, you’ve absolutely earned this don’t let anything take that away, what we’ve done is unbelievable! Go and enjoy yourselves tonight’ I say to the rest of the team.

Unbelievable. Unreal. Amazing. These are just some of the things going through my mind now. I am not getting ahead of myself, but there’s a chance we could end up playing in the Champions play off game, and we could win the whole league. But no, not yet, I’m going to enjoy this promotion, and whatever happens will happen.

Next episode – On the verge of greatness

Previous episode – It’s within reach

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