Vale must do it hard way if they are to avoid relegation

To'i Aualitia in action for the Vale. Picture: Tony North.
To'i Aualitia in action for the Vale. Picture: Tony North.
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A year ago the Vale of Lune were poised on the cusp of being crowned champions of North One West.

At the beginning of March they were 12 points ahead of their nearest rivals with eight games to play and by the middle of April they had secured the pot of gold.

What a difference a year makes, or even a week, because the Vale, with six games left, are now in a battle of survival in North Premier.

They travel to fourth placed Harrogate on Saturday desperately searching for a victory because nothing less will help their cause.

Vale now face a monumental assignment because they will be taking on a bevy of clubs who are currently in the higher echelons of the table, but there could be alterations in their positions by the time they confront the Vale.

Although Billingham look favourites to claim second place behind Hull the season is far from over for the chasing pack, with at least four clubs who go careering into March with high hopes of achieving the play off slot.

It is hard to imagine that at this stage of the campaign Billingham, Blaydon, Harrogate and Wirral in particular, have all switched off, they are ambitious, go-ahead clubs, and the prize is within their grasp.

By a quirk of fate they all have to play the Vale, plus others in the drop zone. A fascinating two months is about to unfold for a number of clubs, for some there will be cheers and for others tears.

The Vale are currently in limbo land and the outcome of the game at the Stratstone Stadium, on Rudding Lane, Harrogate’s home since September 2015, might well bring the curtain crashing down or conversely provide a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Vale now have to march full square into the eye of a tempest and attempt to cling onto a whirligig that could make or break their aspirations.

Some ‘mad March days’ undoubtedly lie ahead for the cherry and whites who should not underestimate the enormity of their quest and how it will impinge on the future.

The results against Billingham, Kendal and Ilkley confirmed that they have the pedigree to pick up the gauntlet but the question hovering on everyone’s lips is a very simple one after some perplexing performances – what team will turn up at HG3 1DQ on Saturday?