The time is now for Colne boss Steve Cunningham as Reds flirt with Evo-Stik play-offs once again

Colne FC boss Steve Cunningham
Colne FC boss Steve Cunningham
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Colne have never had a better opportunity of escaping the Evo-Stik West Division, according to boss Steve Cunningham.

The Reds are challenging for the play-offs for the third season in succession, having lost out in the semi-finals two years ago while cruelly missing out on making the cut on goal difference last term.

Colne are eighth at present, collecting 41 points from 23 games, but the division is wide open with only nine points separating second place Runcorn Linnets and ninth place Prescot Cables.

“We’re always confident,” said Cunningham. “I think we can still win the league, even though it’s a tall order. We’re up against some really top teams.

“There are plenty knocking on the door of the play-offs, it’s been a really competitive campaign.

“We’ve given ourselves a real chance but we’ve got a really testing period coming up where we play four of the top six. We’ll know where we are at the end of that spell.

“The league is very competitive this year. A lot of the big-spenders have gone but there are still some very strong teams.”

He added: “I think it will go down to the last weekend of the season. We need to keep up that consistency and try to go through this run of games unscathed. We certainly won’t be taking anything for granted though.

“This is our best opportunity yet of getting ourselves out of this league. I think if we’d have slipped in to the play-offs last year we would have won it then because our form at the time was frightening.

“Last year we did well with a young squad but now we’ve added experience to that with Billy Priestley, Josh Hine and Richie Baker. With the league being that wide open this is the year we’ve got to target promotion.”

The Reds, who are 18 points better off than they were at this stage last season, take on five of the top seven in the coming weeks.

The Pesky Bulls, a point behind Colne, are first up at Valerie Park but then the likes of Leek Town, Ramsbottom United, league leaders Atherton Collieries, Radcliffe FC and Mossley follow.

Cunningham eventually wants to see the club’s name on the conveyor belt that is the Sky Sports vidiprinter.

However, he knows they’ve got to come through this testing spell unscathed for that dream to move closer to becoming a reality.

“For us it’s been a really good season in terms of consistency,” he said. “We’re 18 points better off than what we were at this stage last season. That’s a massive step forward from where we were at.

“We’ve only lost once in 12 games, we’re in the semi-final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy and we’re challenging for the play-offs for the third year running.

“They’re exciting times and all that shows just how well we are doing. It’s a huge achievement for a club this size.

“I just want to see Colne come up on the Sky Sports vidiprinter. The dream is to get our name on the TV. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.

“This is now our best opportunity by far and we believe that we can do it. It would be remarkable if we can break through the barriers that we’ve never been able to before.

“We want to be a Conference North club eventually but we know there’s a lot of hard work to be done before then.”