Oakham United may have lost to Coates Athletic in the PFA Senior Cup on Saturday but a week earlier they secured the result that really matters in a fascinating league battle which looks like it will go down to the wire.
Oakham’s Stewart Lambie scored one of the most important goals in the club’s season as he got Oakham back on level terms at 1-1 after Athletic’s impressive centre-back Jake Pell came up with a captain’s goal.
The significance of the Lambie goal is Oakham United’s league fate is now in their own hands.
Coates remain in the top spot in the league by one point and have one more score to their name in the goal difference race. But, vitally, Oakham have a game in hand which means if they win all their remaining nine games they will win the league, and a chance at promotion.
The game on Saturday was a case of beauty against the beast, as Oakham tried to impose their stylish football on physical Coates.
Oakham assistant manager Andy Bailey said: “I think it was a fair result. I think we would have taken a point at the start of the game.
“The lads have worked really hard. We have played some decent football. We have had to deal with the physical side of their game. I thought we dealt with that really well. Overall I am happy with a point.”
Oakham have taken four points off each of their two main title rivals, Coates and Netherton, showing the form of potential champions.
Bailey added: “We are in reasonable shape but we just have to make sure we don’t let our standards slip.”
Bailey said: “Based on Saturday’s game, I felt if it had gone on any longer, we were probably the side who was going to win it. I always say to the lads that I back us in the last 15 minutes because of our fitness and I suppose we will go there confident. We have played them twice now and we have beaten them once and so the odds are in our favour.”