MANCHESTER LEAGUE ROUND-UP: Matt Ince to the rescue for Hindsford
HINDSFORD boss Lee Bennett believes his side’s 0-0 draw at home to mid-table East Manchester on Saturday was a point earned rather than two dropped.
Matt Ince saved a last-minute penalty for Hindsford to secure their fourth consecutive clean sheet and move them four points clear at the top of the Premier Division, following a shock defeat for second-placed AVRO.
“The lads were a bit dejected, but I would have happily taken a point when East Manchester were awarded that late penalty,” said Bennett.
“It was a bit of a messy game. We like to play football but the pitch was not great and we had to make quite a few changes, so it wasn’t a bad result in the end and we move on.”
Hindsford now face two tough away games – at Walshaw Sports on Saturday before visiting AVRO the weekend before Christmas.
“We are playing all our main challengers in December and January,” added Bennett.
“And I told the lads that if we can come through these matches unscathed then we will be in a great position to win this thing.”
Atherton Town maintained their outside chance of the Division One title with a 4-1 victory at AFC Bury.
Shaun Lynch’s side were 3-0 up by half-time following two goals from Shane Heaton and a strike by Danny Morton.
And while the home side pulled one back after the break, Mark Prince rounded off a fine team display with a fourth for Atherton 10 minutes from time.
“We had problems with injuries and suspensions earlier on in the season but have been able to put out more of a settled side of late and we saw the benefit of that on Saturday,” said Lynch, whose side are fourth in the table, 14 points behind leaders Elton Vale but with four games in hand.
Atherton travel to neighbours Breightmet United on Saturday for their fifth away game in their last six matches.
“It has been a tough run of games and I expect Saturday’s derby to be another tester,” added Lynch.
“We have another away game after that before a run of matches at home, so hopefully we can start playing catch-up then.”
Breightmet remain sixth in the table after a disappointing 1-1 draw at bottom club Wilmslow Albion at the weekend.
Gary McShane tucked a well-placed shot into the bottom corner to open the scoring for Breightmet shortly after the break. But Simon Wilcox’s side failed to build on that advantage and Albion put them under pressure in the final 15 minutes before equalising with the last kick of the game.
Third-bottom Leigh Athletic also drew 1-1, at home to Chadderton Reserves, stretching their unbeaten run in the league to three matches.
Athletic went behind in the first half following a defensive mistake, but Karl Shepherd headed them back level from a corner shortly after the break.
“It should have been three points really, but we missed five or six chances to win it at the end,” said manager Colin Pickering.