Opportunity knocks for Nelson Football Club as manager Mark Fell seeks a return to the top tier of the North West Counties.
The club’s future was swamped in uncertainty when, after a 129-year existence, the Blues resigned from the league in the culmination to the 2009/10 term.
Following a season-long absence, the Admirals were then re-instated to the First Division and finished 15th and 10th in successive seasons.
However, Fell, appointed at the helm at Victoria Park in November 2012, has sparked the club’s resurgence and they top the table with just 11 games remaining.
And the Blues boss admits the players are willing to back their own ability with talk of promotion ahead of the huge clash with promotion rivals Atherton Collieries at Little Wembley today, with kick-off at 3 p.m. The Blues are currently seven points above their opponents having played two games more.
“There’s definitely talk of promotion because that’s what our eyes are firmly focused on,” Fell said. “That was the aim at the beginning of the season. We went to Atherton in August and got beat 2-1. There’s only three players that featured in that game that are still at the club. That shows the evolution but it’s what happens when you’re successful.
“We’ve got 11 games to go; 11 cup finals. It’s our hardest game remaining because after that we’ll have played the top five home and away. The majority of our games remaining are against teams in the bottom half of the table. It’s the biggest chance we’ll have so we just need to get the job done now.”
In terms of goals scored Nelson have proven to be the Manchester City of their division, finding the net on 107 occasions in all competitions. That success, Fell believes, has been heightened with a shared ambition between the management team, the squad and everyone else involved at Nelson FC, to reach the Evo-Stik league as soon as possible.
“It’s been a great season so far,” said Fell. “We did really well in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy and we’ve reached the quarter-final of the divisional Challenge Cup so we’ve had some good cup runs.
“We’ve beaten Colne and Lancaster City and just fell short against AFC Fylde so it shows we can compete at a higher level. I just need to keep this group of lads together and make a few more additions. We want to get to the Evo-Stik as quickly as possible.”
He added: “The side has been settled for a while now though. We haven’t registered any new players for around six weeks. We’ve got a hungry squad of 20 now.
“The players can see the wider remit of Nelson Football Club. Everyone is on board with what we’re trying to achieve. I’ve always been an advocate of building a competitive squad and getting the players to value the club and their place within it.
“We’re trying to build a club that is much bigger than what we are at the moment. We’ve got a great Development Squad and a successful youth team that is currently top of their division as well. The infrastructure is well established as well for us to move forward so we’re setting our standards high.”