Paget on brink of promotion
Paget Lions are hoping for the ultimate revenge on Southampton Rangers tomorrow when they look for the three points against Ireland Rangers that will secure a return to the Premier Division after a 12-year absence.
The landlords and their tenants have met four times this season, Rangers winning in the Shield final and the semi-final of the FA Cup nearly three weeks ago. But it is the two draws in the league that look like working in Paget’s favour as they hold a two-point lead over Rangers with one game to go.
“Our fate is in our hands, we need three points,” said Mike Stovell, the Paget president and team manager, who was the club’s president back in 2006-07 when they spent their only season in the Premier Division after getting promoted for the first time under coach Marvin Belboda.
A Paget draw against lowly Ireland Rangers would enable Southampton Rangers to claim the second promotion spot on goal difference if they win a tough match against already promoted BAA.
Despite being the only unbeaten team in the league, Rangers look set to miss out on promotion. Drawing six matches, including three times against Paget and BAA, could be decisive, including a scoreless draw with Paget on March 3.
“The intentions of that game was either three points or one, we never even thought of going up there and losing,” Stovell said. “We stuck to our game plan and it worked out.”
Two years ago, Paget finished second from bottom in the First Division, winning just three of their 18 matches. This year, with some new signings on board, they built on their good start and are now on the brink of promotion.
“I’ve been here all my life,” Stovell said of his connection to Paget. “There is a lot of buzz in the community, we just had a Good Friday kick and fans came out to see what’s going on.
“We’re just going to treat it like another game, get three points to know that we’re promoted, then take a break and get back to rebuilding and putting a team together that will be competitive [next season].”
The last time Paget got promoted they also won the Shield to go with the First Division title. With a far inferior goal difference to BAA (63 to 31), BAA have no realistic chance of finishing first even if BAA suffer a loss to Rangers.
“When you look at the cup runs we had it has been amazing, we’re the only team who have done three 120s [extra time] this year,” Stovell pointed out, referring to the matches against Wolves [Shield semi-final], and BAA and Southampton Rangers [FA Cup] which all lasted 120 minutes.
“Against Wolves we did it with nine men, then we beat BAA and lost to Rangers, both which went to penalties. We’ve had a good season, just two blips in the league against BAA and Somerset Eagles.
“To make it to the final of the Shield and the semi-final of the FA and still be in contention [for promotion], I think that’s a great season.
“Everybody who has suited up for Paget this year has made a major impact. It’s been a 100 per cent commitment from everybody. I urge the whole of Ord Road, and those who played for Paget, to come up to Rangers Oval on Sunday. Be there at 12!”
In the other final First Division matches of the season, Devonshire Colts meet St David’s at Police Field, and Somerset Eagles take on St George’s at White Hill Field in a match that will decide fourth place.
Because of a referee shortage, two matches have been switched from tomorrow to next Thursday at Goose Gosling Field. Hamilton Parish will now play Wolves in the First Division 7.00 opener while Premier Division sides Dandy Town and Flanagan’s Onions meet in the second match to close out their seasons.
••Holders PHC Raiders will play St George’s Stallions today in the final of the Masters KO Cup at 4.00 at Southampton Oval. Hamilton Parish and North Village Rams will play in the 2.00 consolation final.
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