HALSTEAD Town manager Mark McLean is urging his players to not squander the lifeline they have been handed in the race to claim second spot in Thurlow Nunn League division one south.

The Humbugs' 2-1 defeat by Wivenhoe Town last weekend appeared to have handed the initiative to rivals Coggeshall United, but the Weavers subsequently dropped points in suffering a surprise 2-0 defeat by Holland FC on Monday.

That has left the race to finish behind champions Hashtag United - and have a chance to be promoted - as a straight fight between Halstead and Coggeshall on the final day of the season on Saturday.

The Weavers are slightly ahead in second spot at the moment thanks to a superior goal difference, while Halstead are third, but the two rivals are locked together on the same points heading into the final round of games.

That sees Halstead having a home game against Wormley Rovers at the Milbank Stadium (kick-off 3pm), while Coggeshall have a daunting-looking trip to Hashtag.

McLean said: "Coggeshall getting beaten at Holland has given us a chance that we thought had gone after that defeat by Wivenhoe. "We could have been officially out of it, but this lifeline is a bonus and it's now a straight shootout between us.

"It was very sombre over the weekend because of what we had done to ourselves with how we lost to Wivenhoe, but we have been handed a second chance and we have to take it.

"Let's do all that we can now and we'll see where it takes us.

"Whatever happens at Hashtag is out of our hands but we can take three points - it's as simple as that.

"The players are hell-bent on doing that because they were devastated by what happened in the second half against Wivenhoe.

"But that's not to say that it will be an easy game for us on Saturday. "Wormley are a dangerous side and have beaten Hashtag and Coggeshall this season so a win is by no means a given."

McLean and his team know they have to finish in the top two to be in with a chance for promotion, however, even that doesn't guarantee a move up this year.

In all step-six leagues across the country, the champions will be heading up, but the FA have said only the six second-placed sides with the best points-per-game ratios from all those leagues will be promoted.

So Halstead know nothing is assured, but McLean wants his team to at least be in with a chance.

He added: "In any other season, we'd have been promoted two weeks ago and this points per game scenario means we may fall short but you never know and we just have to put ourselves in the position where we aren't left kicking ourselves.

"If we finish second then we'll have done all we can. "It's then down to the FA what happens in terms of who gets promoted, but we couldn't class our season as a failure because we'd have finished in the top two.

"We have an opportunity to do that and we have to take it.

"If Coggeshall finish second then they will have earned it, but we have to hope Hashtag want to finish on a high and we have to be in a position to capitalise on any slip-up by Coggeshall."