They need a lot of things to fall into place over the next month, but Port Saints are still alive in the race to the Coastal Premier League finals.
Saints scored three first-half goals and then cruised through the second stanza on the way to a 3-0 win over Macleay Valley on Saturday.
The win saw them climb to the seventh rung of the ladder, six points adrift of fourth-placed Port United in the race for the top four.
Saints coach John Goodman acknowledged his side faced an uphill battle to chase down their rivals, but they remain in the race.
“It’s still a long shot, let’s be honest,” Goodman said.
“But while we’re winning games, the camp is happier too so the boys are happy at the moment and having a red-hot go with everything.
“We need to keep pressing on and the stars might align eventually. We can only finish on 29 points and that’s by beating Coffs United too. Port United are already on 26 and they’ve got an extra game in hand on us.
“I think we’re going to fall outside the top four.”
Rangers coach Simon Tamblyn conceded his side was good for the second half on Saturday, but the game was won and lost through three defensive lapses.
“We’re still plagued by the same issues and we don’t have the people to compete with the amount of players we have out,” he said.
With just two games left of their season, it can’t end quickly enough for Tamblyn and his side.
“We’re limping to the finish line. It’s been a tough year,” he said.
“If you have six or seven first graders (regularly) sitting on the sideline and when you win one, then lose one, then get one back and lose another, you can’t deal with it.
“I haven’t had the same team run out two weeks in a row. You just can’t get any consistency.”
In other weekend matches, Coffs City United locked up the premier’s plate with a 10-0 win over the Taree Wildcats.
Port United moved into the top four and within striking distance of second-placed Coffs Coast Tigers with a 2-1 win over Kempsey Saints.
The Tigers cruised past Sawtell 5-1 to maintain second spot, but the Port Macquarie side has two games in hand.
Boambee held on 5-4 over Northern Storm in a nine-goal thriller at Ayrshire Park.