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Win or bust for Ellerslie AFC

Ellerslie AFC’s Lotto NRFL First Division hopes hang by a thread but recently appointed coach Fred de Jong says the key to survival is simple – win.

The Michaels Ave-based club are firmly mired in a fight for survival and must beat Oratia United on Saturday and hope Franklin United trip up at Waitemata FC on the same day.

Former All White and longtime broadcaster De Jong is a logical choice for a club he also played for.

“I took over the reigns three weeks ago just before the Western Springs game and Chris Wallace stepped aside because he felt it was maybe in the best interests of the club.

“Chris felt his decision would assist the club’s chances of staying up which was very selfless of him to think like that and he was brave enough to make that decision on his own,” De Jong told www.nrfl.co.nz

Oratia United have also struggled in this campaign but are assured of First Division football next season thanks largely to their attacking fulcrum led by Mark Withers.

But Ellerslie will view their opponents with some hope they can exploit United’s defensive frailties without exposing too many of their own.

“We had a very good start against Oratia the last time we played them. We were 1-0 up against at halftime but then we had a poor second half and ended up losing 4-2. Having watched that game there were some good things to build on out of that game for us.

“Oratia has had a difficult time as well and are just above Franklin in the league and it has the makings of a very very close game. For us we just have to make sure we don’t concede. We’ve been conceding goals too easily for a long time now and its one area of the game that we have to tighten up,” he said.

With Franklin United taking on Waitemata FC, and with a two point cushion between themselves and Ellerslie AFC, De Jong admits there is very little he or his players can do to wrestle total control of their situation.

Does it bother him in any way?

“Not really. We’ve put ourselves in a position where our fate isn’t totally in our hands so we have to accept that.The equation is very simple for us. We have to win. We can’t control any other results we just have to win our game and the cards will fall where they fall.

“Now its a matter of us doing everything we can to win our game and see what happens,” he said.

Ellerslie AFC haven’t been in the Lotto NRFL Second Division since 1977 – forty years ago – but while the weight of history remains in the background, De Jong is defiant and says the game with Oratia United is all that matters.

“I haven’t contemplated that side of things because we’re focused on this game. But from a club perspective it would be a setback but right now we’re focused on trying to win the game and staying up.”

Ends

Match Details
Lotto NRFL First Division
Ellerslie AFC v Oratia United
Michaels Avenue, Ellerslie
Kick-off: 3pm