FOOTBALL: The only way is up!
Pinchbeck United are ready to celebrate again on Tuesday night.
The Knights will be crowned champions if they extend a six-month unbeaten run to 24 games.
They clinched promotion with Saturday’s 2-1 victory over second-placed Potton United.
One point from any of the final five fixtures will be enough to seal the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League’s Division One title in their first-ever season at this level.
Potton and Lutterworth Town can match Pinchbeck’s current total of 81 points – but they meet each other next weekend so the Knights are already guaranteed a top-two place for promotion.
Pinchbeck will make the trip to 14th-placed Thrapston Town on Tuesday (8pm kick-off).
Since losing 3-0 at the Sir Halley Stewart Field in late January, the Northamptonshire side have recorded four successive home wins – all with clean sheets.
But the Knights know the championship celebrations can get started with another positive result, having earned back-to-back promotions.
Player-manager Ian Dunn said: “Coming off the pitch on Saturday, we wondered ‘how did we do this?’
“One of Potton’s players called us a rugby team. Well, we’re probably the best rugby team in the league too!
Now we need to finish off the job on Tuesday night and get over the line with three points to be title winners.
“We find a way of winning games. We limited Potton’s chances and neither keeper really had a save to make.
“Their equaliser came out of nothing and it was probably the only time when we didn’t track the runner.
“But we felt before this game that set-pieces would be important. It proved to be the case in the end.
“Their keeper is not very good at coming off his line so we put the ball into that area, asked a question and got the right answer to win it.
“This is Pinchbeck’s first season in the UCL and only two players have been at this level recently.
“The rest of the squad have come up with us from the Peterborough and District League.
“I thought it was fitting for Ollie Maltby to get the winner as our top scorer.
“Now we need to finish off the job on Tuesday night and get over the line with three points to be title winners.”
Assistant manager Allan Ross added: “The game plan was executed fantastically. It wasn’t a fluke that we won it.
“People talk about ability but anyone coming here must also buy into our vision and give 100 per cent.
“We are used to having success but we work harder than everybody else.
“I’m so proud to be part of this club. We don’t have a committee or the budget that everyone talks about.
“We have heart and desire plus a willingness to work for each other. You can’t buy that.
“We have got something very special here and what we have achieved is purely down to dedication.
“We don’t have a day off. We get what we deserve because we watch matches to look at formations, tactics and how other teams make changes.
“Potton walked right into our hands with every tactic. We knew what they would do.
“We are the best team and the statistics don’t lie. We’ve only lost twice this season.
“This is a great achievement. There are lots of people to thank and we can’t name everyone but we’ve had some great exposure which hopefully can attract sponsors.”
Saturday also saw the first UCL fixture with three female officials as Louisa Thorold took control. Her assistants were Aimee Keir and Laura Van-Lier.