ATHERTON Town had the Manchester League Division One title cruelly snatched from their grasp in a dramatic climax to the season.
Trailing leaders Chapel Town on goal difference going into Saturday’s final round of fixtures, the Howe Bridge men wrapped up their programme with a 5-1 victory over fifth-placed Irlam Steel and left the field thinking they were champions because Chapel Town were only drawing their game 1-1 at Beechfield United.
The Atherton camp were preparing to celebrate – only to learn that Chapel Town had scored in the last minute to leave them crestfallen.
But manager Shaun Lynch insisted his team had achieved their main objective of promotion back to the Premier Division.
“We set out to get back in the Premier Division and we’d already achieved that before Saturday,” Lynch said.
“We didn’t do so well in the first half of the season but I always said if we could put out our best side we were the best team in the division – and since Christmas we’ve proved that, losing one game, drawing one and winning the rest.”
Leighton Mills, Gaz Shaw, Shane Heaton, Danny Morton and Nick Eastham scored the Town goals as they finished their league programme on a winning note, earning praise from the manager.
“I’m chuffed for the lads,” Lynch added. “They’re a young side and they can only get better.
“We need a centre-forward because the lack of a goalscorer cost us the title this season. But with the addition of one or two players we’ll be looking to get to mid-table next season.”
Meanwhile, Premier Division champions Hindsford, who also won the Atherton Charity Cup and Bolton Hospital Cup, will be looking to make it a quadruple tomorrow night when they take on Monton in the final of the Gilgryst Cup at Hyde United, kick off 7.30pm.
Elsewhere, in the Over-35s League, the weather again intervened on Sunday and three of the five rearranged games were postponed to Wednesday.
These are: Division One: Queen Lizzie v Atherton Town, Division Two: Ainsworth A v Henighans, Division Three: Crossguns v Ainsworth B. Weather permitting, that will leave just BLGC v Crossguns next Sunday in Division Three to complete the season. BLGC need at least a draw in their final game to win their division as they are a point behind Radcliffe Old Boys B, but have a much superior goal difference.
They could have done the job on Sunday, but lost 4-1 at home to Golborne Parkside. Allen Mitchell scored BLGC’s only goal, but Paul Jones and Stuart Gaskell scored two each for Golborne to leave BLGC sweating on the result of their final game.
Daten won Division One despite losing 3-1 on Sunday to Cheers Bar. They have both finished on 29 points, but Daten went into the game with a 14-goal advantage in their goal differences.
Chris Burnett scored for Daten while David Barrett, John Coogan and Craig Griffiths were on target for Cheers.
In the West Lancashire League, Heath Ainscow (two), Josh Lee and Scott McNair grabbed the goals in Eagley’s 4-2 win against Slyne with Hest to stay in fourth place in the Premier Division.