Blues aiming for cup semi-final berth

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SOME managers view cup competitions as an inconvenience in an already hectic schedule.

But for Blues boss Paul Paynter it provides the opportunity of silverware in Nelson’s first season back since being re-elected to the league.

Paynter’s side face Northwich Villa in tomorrow’s First Division Trophy quarter-final tie to be held at Winsford United’s Barton Stadium, with the winners advancing to the final four where they will face in-form Norton United.

“I said at the start of the season that we’ve got to give everything our best shot,” said Paynter.

“Realistically this was the competition that we could see ourselves doing well in.

“We beat them 3-0 at home in September so it would be great to repeat that.

“We are very keen to put on a good show especially with a semi-final carrot dangling in front of us.

“If we win we face Norton and I believe that they’re the best side in the division so even if we do get through it’s going to be a tough ask to make the final.”

Nelson’s preparation for that cup clash arrived in the form of a dogged 1-0 victory over AFC Darwen, the response needed after the 3-0 defeat away to Formby at the weekend.

Lydon Hodgkiss sealed maximum points in the 74th minute in the Blues’ first game at Little Wembley since a 3-2 triumph over Ashton Town in early November.

“It was a good three points,” Paynter said. “We didn’t play that well and we were quite lucky but that’s the nature of football and it was a great win for us. It was nice to play at home again as well and the pitch was in good nick.

“We’ve had Paul Sells signed on since November; he’s played a few times for us but we only realised the other day that he’d never actually played at our home stadium.

“It’s crazy because that was more than three months ago.”

The win moved Nelson within three points of tomorrow’s opponents in the league, though Villa have played five games more.

Now Paynter wants more of those games converted in to points in hope of pushing towards mid-table.

“We’ve got a lot of games in hand,” he said. “But we need to translate those games in to points.

“We’ve made up a bit of ground with that win and it’s given us a bit of a confidence boost.

“We really needed that because obviously we’ve not been playing the games to conjure any kind of form. There’s nothing like getting points on the board.”

The North West Counties Football League has recently proposed a move to introduce a three up, three down promotion and relegation system between the Premier League and First Division.

The proposal, which was the work of Atherton Collieries Secretary Emil Anderson, will be voted on by member clubs at the League AGM in June, and if the majority vote in favour, the new rule will be implemented with effect from the season 2012/13.

And Paynter accepts that he would support the change: “I don’t see why not.

“I think it will be better. Every now and again you get teams running away with the championship, especially if there’s a big-spending club in the division.

“I was part of the Kirkham and Wesham side that ran away with it.

“We were about 20 points clear with 10 or 15 games remaining which meant other teams had nothing to play for.”

Paynter added: “It certainly makes things more interesting and exciting.

“Hopefully next season Nelson FC can be involved in that and challenging higher up the table.

“If that’s the case then this proposal would obviously benefit ourselves.

“We want to push forward now and we want to show that we have the ability, quality and togetherness to achieve that.”

DAN BLACK