STONECLOUGH grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory when they let a 5-2 lead slip in the final 15 minutes at home to Dalton United.

It was the first of a three-game sequence the Division One bottom club had targeted to mount a possible survival bid.

Josh Lee starred with a hat-trick as the Brook Street men put the mid-table visitors to the sword for the first hour, with Darren McCartney and Wayne Morgan grabbing the others.

But their lack of strength in depth told in the final 15 minutes as they tired late on.

“There’s not a lot of good young players coming through into amateur football,” said chairman David Berry whose club, relegated last season, have won just one of their 20 league games this term.

“Every club’s struggling to get them, even clubs in higher leagues than the West Lancs.

“They just don’t seem to want to play amateur football like they used to. We’re finding it hard to get them and it showed on Saturday when we just fell apart.

“It was another nail in our coffin, but we’ll carry on, it’s all you can do. If there are any sheikhs out there wanting to buy us, get in touch.”

Eagley warmed up for tomorrow night’s Lancashire Shield semi-final against Premier Division title rivals Longridge at Padiham (7.30pm kick off) with a resounding 6-2 romp at bottom club Lostock St Gerards.

Gareth Carson, Matthew Carr, Jordan Cover and Danny Warburton put the Dunscar men 4-0 up at half time before they took their foot off the gas. Cover and a spectacular solo goal from Matt Eckersley rounded off their scoring as Eagley climbed to third.

Tempest United moved five points clear of relegation with an impressive 2-0 victory at Vickerstown.

Jamie Hylton produced the highlight when he beat four players before rounding the keeper, and Matty Swailes grabbed the other.

There will be an all-Bolton Division Two Challenge Cup semi-final after Bolton County and Chew Moor Brook won through to the last four.

Liam Short, man-of-the-match Liam Stewart and Chris Benson put the Radcliffe Road men 3-0 up before Barrow Wanderers were gifted a late consolation, while Andy Lane and Jamie Boyd were on target in CMB’s 2-0 victory over Whinney Hill.

Ladybridge’s fine recent form continued with a 3-0 win at Ulverston in Division Two.

Liam Boswell put the Bolton men ahead on 30 minutes after Jordan Hussey’s effort was parried by the home keeper who was a one-man obstacle in the face of constant Ladybridge pressure.

Richard Lewis doubled the lead after fine interplay with Boswell, and Hussey crowned a man-of-the-match performance with a penalty after being felled in the box.