Ripon and Boroughbridge look set to play their football in West Yorkshire League Division One next season after being confirmed to finish in the league’s bottom three.
Boroughbridge’s 5-1 defeat to Oxenhope on Saturday means they are now 14 points from safety with three games to play with Ripon sitting just two points ahead.
Steve Donoghue’s side could have fought off the drop for another weekend at least had they beaten Brighouse at the weekend but their 1-0 defeat means they can finish no higher than 14th.
However, Ripon still maintain a glimmer of hope of retaining their premier league status should they finish third from bottom if only two teams are relegated.
Donoghue has now targeted nine points from their remaining three fixtures, starting with a win over Boroughbridge on Wednesday night, after the Gazette went to print.
He said: “Boroughbridge need to beat us to avoid finishing bottom. Sometimes these derbies are just about bragging rights but it’s more than that this time.
“Someone has to finish bottom and we don’t want that to be us. We now play the two teams who are down there with us so we have to match them in terms of effort and hopefully our quality should come through.”
After beating Shelley 3-0 the week before and lifting themselves off the foot of the table, Ripon went into the clash against fellow strugglers Brighouse with renewed confidence.
However, Ripon’s hopes of survival were dealt a midweek blow with Brighouse registering an unlikely win over Oxenhope to increase their lead over Ripon to nine points.
Donoghue admitted his side were ‘very disappointed’ after their defeat at the weekend and criticised his side for being ‘too nervous and desperate’ as they chased the win.
He said: “Brighouse came to us with a plan, they played one up front and five in midfield and came looking for a draw but ended up sneaking the win.
“We were too nervous and too desperate. It’s very disappointing, we tried to keep it optimistic after the game but they were so disappointed.
“They knew they had not played well especially after the weekend before when they were euphoric, but this week is it was all a bit rushed and desperate.”
After their derby against Boroughbridge, Ripon face East End Park on Saturday before finishing their season against Oxenhope on May 16.