With just three and two matches remaining for Ardee Celtic and Square United respectively in the North East Football League Division 1 this season, there’s still much to play for as the two Ardee sides battle towards the top and the bottom of the divsion.
Both teams were in action over the past weeked – with 13 goals scored in their games against Torro United and Kentstown – but whilst Celtic’s 3-2 win away to Torro put them level on points with league leaders OMP, Square succumbed to their a 6-2 defeat to bottom side Kentstown Rovers.
Such is the tight nature of things down at the bottom, Rovers rose two places with that win and now sit just two points off Square. Only three points separate the Ardee men from Torro in 11th, the final outright relegation berth.
So as the season enter’s it’s final stretch, how do things look for both Ardee teams? Here, we take a look.
The current league table
The Title Race
Despite holding a 3-0 lead over strugglers Torro United on Sunday afternoon, Ardee Celtic were made to sweat as the Kilberry side came back to 2-3 and almost, almost found a leveller after some late pressure.
The win proved important – all the more so as Enfield Celtic and OMP United played out a 2-2 draw when they met on Friday night. That result meant the three points on Sunday saw Ardee Celtic move level on points at the top of tha table.
Both OMP United and Ardee Celtic have two games in hand on third placed Enfield, so that appears to rule the latter out of the equation for the title race and probably, automatic promotion.
Black Bull currently sit in fourth, six points off the top two with a game in hand. Whilst they need their rivals to drop points to make the automatic promotion spots, Enfield and the play-off position are well within their sights.
Ardee Celtic face a very difficult end to the season. In their final three games they play Johnstown FC (fifth), Black Bull (fourth) and finally, OMP United (1st). If they win all three, they will secure the title and automatic promotion – but it will be a very tough ask.
The match with OMP United is scheduled for the last game of the season – and as things stand could be a title decider, depending on results between then and now. Both teams may have secured automatic promotion by the time the game takes place. The top two teams go up automatically while third place faces a play off with the third from bottom team in the Premier Division.
Title Race – Remaining Fixtures
- ARDEE CELTIC – Johnstown FC (A), Black Bull (A), OMP United (A)
- OMP UNITED – Navan Town (A), Trim Town (A), Ardee Celtic (H)
The Battle for Safety
Square United have just two games remaining in their battle against the drop. It’s an intriguing battle and very hard to predict what will happen, especially considering the bottom four teams in the division have each played different numbers of games – 18, 19, 20 and 21.
Torro look doomed. They have managed to win just 15 points from 21 games this term and they travel to Enfield Celtic for their final game of the season next week. A win could save them but with their rivals currently having two, three or even four games left to play, Torro will need to depend on those around them not picking up points themselves.
Square have one home match and one away trip to make before the season ends. They will host Black Bull at the Boys School Field on Wednesday March 26th before facing Navan Town to end the campaign. With Navan safely ensconced in mid-table and with nothing to play for, United might hope they can capitalise should they need to.
However, by that stage, Square might be safe. It all depends on how Trim, Torro and Kentstown do between now and then (Woodview don’t have a fixture for two weeks). Realistically, three points from six available would see them safe for another year. It may not even come to that. But they can’t take any chances. The bottom two teams go down whilst the third from bottom team faces a relegation/promotion playoff.
Battle for Safety – Square’s Remaining Fixtures
- Square United – Black Bull (H), Navan Town (A)