Barnoldswick Town come within seconds of relegation

Barnoldswick Town FC manager Stewart Airdrie (S)

Barnoldswick Town FC manager Stewart Airdrie (S)

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Barnoldswick Town boss Stewart Airdrie was able to muster a joke despite the gut-wrenching route that his side took to securing NWC Premier Division survival.

Town were literally seconds away from dropping down a tier as relegation rivals St Helens Town led Silsden courtesy of Aaron Morris’s first half strike in their final fixture of the season.

We obviously didn’t do the job ourselves and we’ve been reliant on others to save us. But at least we got that bit of luck from Silsden

Barnoldswick Town boss Stewart Airdrie

However, an incredibly dramatic finale, which Town’s squad and backroom staff experienced via a live stream, saw the away side level in stoppage time at Brocstedes Park through Kev Ryan.

“It’s probably one of the most significant goals for the club,” said Airdrie. “There won’t be many other times when Silsden do us any favours, but they certainly did us one the other night.

“I think Kev Ryan will be getting the key to Barnoldswick. He’s rescued us.

“We obviously didn’t do the job ourselves and we’ve been reliant on others to save us. But at least we got that bit of luck from Silsden.

“We kept an eye on the game. We weren’t sure whether to go and watch it or just listen. I don’t think either option would’ve been nice. My assistant James Gill ended up streaming the game and he was giving everybody updates. We knew exactly what was going on.”

Airdrie added: “It’s our own doing and we’ve put ourselves in this situation which is disappointing. Fortunately we can build from here.

“All the lads were following the game. I received 90-plus messages in 15 minutes. We were getting minute-by-minute updates so we thought it was all over. Then Silsden scored in the 91st minute. That was our lifeline.”

Town, though, were still made to sweat on their future. With Bacup and Rossendale Borough still to play, celebrations were put on hold.

Having beaten Bootle 4-2 in their penultimate outing, victory by a two-goal margin away at Ashton Athletic would’ve been enough to remain in England’s ninth tier.

Fortunately for Town, the outcome ensured that they wouldn’t be one of the teams to be usurped by Atherton Collieries and Cammell Laird 1907 at the end of the rigmarole.

“You have to feel for St Helens,” Airdrie said. “They gave themselves a chance, as did everybody else at the bottom end of the table. It’s never nice for a team to go down but, as harsh as it sounds, I’d rather it was them than us.

“We didn’t envisage ourselves being in this position at the start of the season. Losing the likes of Shaun Airey, John Beckwith, Ed Hall and Dean Overson were huge blows for us though. We didn’t really replace them.

“We want to compete at the highest level possible. We don’t want to be in this position again. We are delighted to be in the Premier Division.”