BREIGHTMET United manager Simon Wilcox highlighted the leadership qualities of his captain Carl Bancks after the Moss Park outfit returned to winning ways on Saturday.
Critical of his team’s performance the previous week, when he described the first 45 minutes of the 4-0 defeat at Chadderton Reserves as “the worst half of football” he had seen in his time as manager, Wilcox saw his players restore some of their lost confidence with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over fellow Division One mid-table side Heywood St James.
Leading 1-0 at half time through a volleyed goal from Kyle Bailey, United got up a head of steam in the second half with Bancks producing a trademark header from Bailey’s corner to double the lead.
“I don’t think there’s a better header of a ball in the league than Carl, when the delivery is right,” Wilcox said.
“And this time everything came together, the cross was perfect and Carl timed his run perfectly.
“His header screamed into the top corner and I was delighted for him because he epitomises the spirit we need in the club. He was the one who was ripping into the players after the previous week’s defeat. He has a strong will to win and that’s what we need.”
Goals from Gary McShane and Kurt Farlowe restored Breightmet’s dominance after the Saints had pulled one back and there could have been more if they had taken all of the chances they fashioned on a day when three of their line-up – goalkeeper Ash Whittle and full-backs Junior Ralphson and Scott Locke – completed the full 90 minutes having played in the morning for the title chasing Under-18s in a 3-1 win at league leaders Hindsford.
“I’ve been saying all season that we have a strong squad,” Wilcox added.
“We’re a very young side but with players prepared to play two games a day for us, we have a lot to look forward to.”
Second-placed Atherton Town continued their push for the Division One title with an emphatic 6-0 win at Wilmslow Albion – although not emphatic enough for manager Shaun Lynch who started the day looking to make up a goal difference of 10 that made leaders Chapel Town favourites to go up as champions.
With goals from Jordan Smith (two) Jimmy McMullen, Dane Grimes, Nick Eastham and Hemsley Mills, they managed to reduce the deficit by two – Chapel Town winning 4-0 at Chadderton Reserves – but that still left the Peak District side with a distinct advantage in the run-in.
“I reckon we only need one more win from our three games to secure promotion, but we want the silverware,” Lynch said.
“I was really looking to make up more gound on Chapel Town on Saturday, but they still have to play Beechfield United twice and they won’t be easy games.”
Hindsford moved to within one point of Premier Division leaders Royton Town with a 2-1 victory over Walshaw Sports.
Goals from the talented Portuguese front man David Moreno and Jack Valentine kept hopes alive of the second-placed Squires Lane men securing a third successive title, but it is still tight at the top with Prestwich Heys in fourth and Stockport Georgians in sixth both having games in hand.
“Everybody seems to be winning at the moment, but all we can do is look after ourselves and not worry about what other teams are doing,” said Hindsford boss Lee Bennett.