THEY are not out of the woods just yet but the Western NSW Mariners FC have taken a major step towards ensuring they avoid relegation from the men’s State League 1 competition after last Saturday.
The Mariners stunned competition high flyers Northbridge with a 2-0 upset in first grade, drew nil-all with them in under 20s and claimed an outstanding 4-2 victory in under 18s.
The only problem was that Camden and Nepean, their two closest rivals in the relegation battle, also had wins in first grade.
In the club championship format, a first grade win has a higher weighting of points than the lower grades.
The lowest overall total will see that club relegated to State League 2 next season.
Courtesy of the efforts of their 20s and 18s, the Mariners put another point between themselves and last-placed Camden to stretch that gap to 21 points.
For good measure they jumped past Nepean FC by four points, and are now just one behind Balmain and seven adrift of Stanmore.
Conceivably, another couple of good weeks could see them jump as high as eighth which would be a huge turnaround given their situation five or six weeks ago.
“It was a really strong day at the office for the whole club,” first grade captain Adam Scimone said in the wake of Saturday’s results.
“It is starting to get very close between us, Stanmore and Nepean now and with another two or three big weeks we can realistically jump all of them if we can keep playing the way we have been.”
In a quirk of the draw, the Mariners play all four of their nearest rivals in the next four weeks.
On current form in the top grade, they would deservedly start as favourites in each of those games.
Scimone, from Orange, isn’t getting complacent though.
“We do have a bit of a buffer over Camden, so we’re safe for the time being,” he said.
“All those teams near us have had some good results in the last few weeks too though, and Camden are coming off a win on Saturday themselves so it isn’t going to be easy.
“Things have been really consistent in our last three games and morale is very high which is great to see.
“When we won three weeks ago I think I rated everyone an eight out of 10. The win against Northbridge was so good, I’d give everyone a 10 out of 10. The guys who came off the bench did exactly what they were asked to do.
“Everyone out there played their role exactly how they needed to.”