ATHERTON Town reinforced their bid for the treble with a 2-1 win at Breightmet United in a game played in treacherous conditions.
A week after beating Breightmet to reach the final of the Murray Trophy, Shaun Lynch’s side – third in the Division One table and Trophy holders – showed their promotion credentials with a win that left them just six points behind leaders Chapel Town with two games in hand.
And having beaten Atherton Collieries in midweek to reach the quarter-finals of the Hospital Cup, confidence is soaring at the Howe Bridge side. Even Breightmet manager Simon Wilcox believes Town are heading for promotion back to the Premier League.
“We’ve got a young side – eight of Saturday’s starters were 21 or under – and I told them at the end they had played a team that’s probably going to be going up and they have given them a fright,” Wilcox said.
“The future’s looking bright for us if our young players can learn from this season’s experience.”
Good football was at a premium in the heavy conditions at Moss Park and the outcome was in the balance until 20 minutes from time when Town’s 18-year-old midfielder Luke Jones rose to powerfully head home a Dane Grimes corner.
Ten minutes later Jones repeated the feat, heading in a Nick Eastham cross.
United finished strongly but Dean Banks’ goal three minutes from time proved a consolation.
Lynch was delighted but admitted he would not have complained if the referee had called off the game.
“It should not have been played but both sets of players were up for it,” said the Town boss.
“I was just glad to get it out of the way and get the three points at the end of a good week. We can go top if we win our games in hand but we’ve got a tough game at Leigh Athletic on Saturday.”
The Latics were one of the teams frustrated by the weather when their home game against Irlam Steel was abandoned after 77 minutes when they were leading 5-1.
Jack Kenney scored a hat-trick, including two from the penalty spot, with Matthew Bablincki and Karl Shepherd also on target for Leigh, who are waiting to hear whether or not the result will stand.
Meanwhile, Hindsford’s hopes of a third successive Premier League title suffered another setback when they lost 2-0 at Dukinfield Town.
The Squires Lane men remain in second place, six points behind leaders Royton Town with two games in hand, but there are now seven teams with a realistic chance of winning the title.