It would have been too early in the year to term Macleay Valley’s 2-0 win over Port Saints as season-defining for a lot of people in the Coastal Premier League.
But not so for Rangers coach Simon Tamblyn after his side kept their second clean sheet of the season on Saturday.
Rangers controlled large parts of the match and could have had a goal or two more.
“We were thinking it was (must-win) to stay anywhere near the top four because if we had have lost then we’re a couple of wins adrift,” he said.
“We were probably better than that; in the first half their keeper kept them in it and we probably had two or three other clear-cut chances.”
Returning captain Chad Applegate and Troy Ward found the back of the net as Macleay Valley snapped a two-game winless run where they hadn’t scored a goal.
“We probably eased off a little bit and were a bit lax in the second half but we had done a lot of work in the first half and controlled it in the second,” Tamblyn said.
It was arguably Saints’ worst performance of the season which left plenty of questions for coach John Goodman to ponder during the week.
“It’s probably the first game all year where I’ve walked away and thought ‘we weren’t in it’,” he said.
The defeat saw Saints slip to sixth on the ladder where a victory would have put some breathing space between themselves in fourth spot and the chasing pack.
“It’s a point now where we have to look hard at ourselves, absolutely,” Goodman said.
“We need to look and go ‘okay, if we don’t do something about it from now we’re going to get left at the bottom. We won’t climb the ladder’.”
The Saints coach conceded the competition was too close for any team to play not at their best every week.
“If you drop off five percent in this competition at the minute anybody can take you and that’s what we did; we dropped off too much,” he said.
In other matches, Coffs City United inflicted Taree Wildcats’ heaviest defeat of the season in a ruthless 10-0 victory while Coffs Coast Tigers continued their good run of results. They found the back of the net seven times in a 7-0 win over Sawtell.
Northern Storm and Boambee shared the points in a 2-2 draw while Port United suffered their first loss of the season in a surprise 2-1 defeat to Kempsey Saints.
That match was shifted to Kempsey at the last minute due to the recent wet weather in Port Macquarie.