NORTHWICH Vics are to snatch a relegation lifeline - but first they must help themselves, says manager Shaun Teale.
Off-the-field calamities which have struck Exeter City and Margate - revealed in past Chronicle sports pages - look increasingly likely to benefit all the clubs in the relegation scramble.
And with Barrow falling off the promotion pace in the UniBond League, Northwich's chances of staying put are improving all the time.
'But we must put pressure on Leigh. The players need to finish the season off the bottom. If we can do that at least then, whatever happens, we have ended a terrible season with a little dignity.
'No-one relishes other clubs coming to grief, but if that is the break for Vics then we'll take it,' said Teale.
An injury to Chris Thompson may persuade Teale to make one more signing for the battle ahead.
Exeter are under threat of 46 points being deducted for going into administration and fielding an ineligible player for much of the season. Moreover, they have huge debts and could go under. Even so, they travelled Monday, stayed overnightandhiredMoss Farmtotrainfor yesterday's clash at Wincham Park.
Margate may have breached ground-sharing rules and face expulsion. Whether they deserve it or not, finishing second-bottom might be enough to save Vics.
Beating third-from-bottom Farnborough at home on Saturday could turn the heat up on Leigh, where Vics visit on Easter Monday. It would also stoke the worries of the Hampshire visitors.
Suddenly, the worst campaign in the history of Northwich Vics might produce a thrilling finish.
'In the last three games, we have played like a mid-table side and that is where we ought to be, mid-table.
'The players have only just realised it. They just seemed to have gelled at last. I put a lot of emphasis on team spirit. When I arrived, there were different factions here, now they are all pulling together.
'I alsobelieveyouplay asyoutrainand we have been working hard but with a smile on our faces.
'I don't know if it is anything to do with me and I don't care. It's working.'
The win at Burton was the first for Teale and also his first clean sheet. It was achieved with third-choice Ben Connett in goal.
With Andy Woods' proposed move to Chester seem-ingly dead in the water, Vics allowed deputy Andy Ralph to go on a month's loan to Stalybridge.
Then Chester made their belated move for Woods. 'I have had my career and I won't stand in someone else's way. We were happy to trust Ben and he had a fine game,' added Teale.
Vics were talking to another Conference side about borrowing an attacking player until the end of the season.
Striker Chris Thompson was stretchered off at Burton and Teale wants to check the damage to his hamstring before making up his mind.
'It looks serious. If it is I'll make a signing, though I had not planned to,' he said. It's Ladies' Day at Vics on Saturday.
Women and girls are admitted free - if they apply to general manager Dave