Relegation from Touchline SIL Senior Division too close to call

Ipswich Exiles (black and white stripes) in action against Coplestonians at Notcutts Park earlier th

Ipswich Exiles (black and white stripes) in action against Coplestonians at Notcutts Park earlier this season

IPSWICH Exiles manager Lee Steward admits the club’s fate this season is too close to call.

Exiles won promotion to the Senior Division of the Touchline SIL for the first time in the club’s history on the final day of last season.

But with just three matches to play Steward said: “I can’t call the league this season – we could still go down or we could finish in a respectable position!”

Exiles tomorrow travel to third-placed Felixstowe United, whose title aspirations suffered a major setback following a 3-1 midweek loss at East Bergholt United.

Steward said: “It is a big game for them as well as for us after their result against East Bergholt on Tuesday night – it is last chance saloon for them so far as the title is concerned.

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“Although Ipswich Valley Rangers have almost got it wrapped up Felixstowe United will still need to get three points just in case. The fact they have go to go for the win means it could be a more open game.

“In an ideal world we would not want to be playing a top team, but we have already beaten them this year, although I don’t know if that will go against us.

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“It is not a must-win game for us, but we will be looking to get something out of the game.”

At the start of the season Steward was targeting a mid-table finish, but admitted it had been a tough baptism in the top flight.

He said: “It has been hard for a club of our size. We have a small committee and since the end of December I have been managing on my own.

“We found it a big step up to this league to start with. The established players were okay, but it was difficult for those who had not played in the Senior Division before.

“But from the middle of February we went unbeaten for eight matches as we built up some good momentum.

“Player availability has been a big factor in the league this season. To our credit, in the last couple of months we have had a full 14 players and been able to leave players out.

“We have done well to get ourselves in a position going into the last three games of the season with a chance of staying up.

“As well as Ipswich Athletic, Leiston St Margaret’s and East Bergholt, established sides like Stanton and Melton have struggled and been dragged into it.”

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