It was a case of one step forward and then another one back for AMI Nelson Suburbs.
With just three rounds remaining and still five points separating them and league leaders Cashmere Technical, Nelson Suburbs knew they had to beat Halswell United in Christchurch on Saturday to keep their slim title hopes alive.
They got the first job done, beating Halswell United 3-0, but then news came through that Cashmere Technical had rocked Coastal Spirit 6-1 to keep their five point safety net in tact.
"Someone was texting me the score and they said they were up 1-nil at halftime then we got to the airport and we hoped something would come of it but then they were 5-1 up and I was thinking 'how did that happen?" co-coach Davor Tavich said.
That result leaves Cashmere Technical needing to lose their final two games for Nelson Suburbs to have any chance of overtaking them, and considering they have only lost once in the Mainland Premier League this season that seems unlikely.
Tavich remained realistic after his side's 3-0 loss to Cashmere Technical in the previous round so said it wasn't surprising to be in the position they are now, needing a miracle to fight their way back into the title hunt.
"There was always a hope but we weren't really disappointed as such. We all knew it was highly unlikely. They may lose a point against Ferrymead Bays but I don't think they will drop any more than that."
Tavich said Saturday's game against Halswell United was very one-sided, with Suburbs missing a string of chances that could have seen the scoreline blow out even further.
"We could have been easily up 10-0 without any exaggeration. We had so many chances. They put in a bit of fight in the first half but in the second half the boys just dominated and I think everyone had a chance to score from the 11 on the pitch.
"We missed a lot of chances and I'm not happy with the finishing but performance-wise in the second half we really dominated, we picked up on the intensity and the work rate was really awesome."
Sam Ayers, starting in a more attacking midfield role, scored the only goal of the first half, before right-back Tom Marston and winger Omar Guardiola put the game beyond doubt with goals in the second half.
Tavich handed a start to experienced midfielder Neil Connell for Saturday's match, opting against rushing Bertie Fish straight back into the starting 11, and he said Connell justified his selection with a determined effort in the engine room.
"Bertie just came back from overseas so we thought Neil deserved the starting spot and he's done great for us. He played really hard, won a lot of ball and was really calm on it."
Halswell United did have their moments, including one long range effort that had to be tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Coey Turipa, but they were unable to find a goal.
Nelson Suburbs are back at home for their next match, taking on relegation threatened Christchurch United at Saxton Field on August 23.
AT A GLANCE
Nelson Suburbs 3 (Sam Ayers, Tom Marston, Omar Guardiola) Halswell United 0