PENNINGTON stepped up their promotion challenge with an impressive 2-0 win at AFC Bury.

Second in Division One behind runaway leaders Rochdale Sacred Heart, the Leigh side came off the back of a scrappy 2-1 win against bottom club Wilmslow Albion the previous week to take the honours in a hotly-contested match.

The in-form Bury side have designs on promotion themselves and pushed Pennington all the way in a game that was in the balance until midway through the second half when Chris Holt broke down the right to whip in a cross to the back post where Ben Hardcastle tucked away the visitors’ second.

Lee Smith had given Pennington the lead with the last kick of a tight first half, converting one of the rare scoring chances forged by either side.

Atherton Town, who are also in the promotion hunt, remain fourth despite a 3-0 defeat at Rochdale Sacred Heart who maintained their 100 per cent league record.

The home side took advantage of their small pitch, scoring two of their goals from long throws and the other from a corner.

But Town were struggling from the start with manager Shaun Lynch forced into a selection shake-up after six of his seven senior strikers were unavailable.

The bonus, however, came in eye-catching performances by players drafted in – 16-year-old Danny Pilling impressing on the right of midfield and finishing with a broken nose as a token of his open age experience – Heath Ainscough, aged 18, doing well up front in his first start and reserve-teamer Adam Barnes, also 18, making an impression as a second-half substitute.

“At 2-0 down we should have had a penalty and we had a couple of chances for 2-1 when players were clean through,” Lynch said. “They are a big side and they are strong on set-pieces but on a bigger pitch and with a full side out, they’d be nothing to fear. The lads who came in did really well and we got ourselves in really good positions but couldn’t put the chances away.”

Fives Athletic came back down to earth with an almighty bump when they followed up the previous week’s 8-0 win at Stockport Sports with a 7-1 home defeat at the hands of Elton Vale.

John Barnes scored the Walkden side’s consolation goal.

Hindsford maintained their lead at the top of the Premier Division with a 5-1 win at home to second-bottom Heywood St James.

Good football was at a premium on the heavy Squires Lane pitch but the champions produced a powerful performance.

The match was over as a contest at half time when Hindsford led 3-0 with goals from strike duo Wes Bancroft (two) and Tom Valentine.

Manager Barry Massey took the opportunity to switch strikers 15 minutes into the second half with Luke Sylvester and Liam Morris replacing Bancroft and Valentine and Morris scored Hindsford’s fourth soon after going on.

The Saints cashed in on a misguided backpass to pull a goal back but Aarion Swift had the last word on the scoring front for Massey’s men who remain three points ahead of East Manchester who they have still to play twice.

Breightmet United Reserves pulled off a surprise win in the Open Cup beating Stockport Georgains from a higher league 4-3.

Kyle Bailey, Dave Haslam, Ben Walmesley and Martin Grundy got the goals.