BOLTON Lads and Girls Club have hit the front in the race for the Division Two title, courtesy of a magnificent 7-1 win against Heywood St James.

BLGC thumped fifth-placed Jimmies with Jack Alderson and Shane Birtles sharing the goals, the former’s hat-trick overshadowed by a four-goal haul for Birtles, a winger deputising in attack.

BLGC had not played a competitive fixture in four weeks and had prepared for a stern test at Heywood.

A flurry of snow in the hours leading up to the match meant Jimmies were forced to concede home advantage and fulfill the fixture at BLGC’s Hacken Lane ground.

Happy to be hosting, the Bolton side were out of the blocks quickly and, after dominating the first 10 minutes, took the lead when Birtles converted a cross from player-manager Ryan Standring.

Although Heywood came into the game more, BLGC doubled the lead when another cross from Standring found Josh Kedie and he set up Birtles for a second goal.

With BLGC now fully in control, Ash Reece slotted in Alderson to make it 3-0 before Birtles completed a first-half hat-trick, pouncing to score from a Kedie cross.

A 4-0 lead at the break, having played some terrific football, was nothing more than BLGC deserved.

They continued their intensity in the second half, although shortly after the restart Heywood were out to make it more difficult and scored their only goal of the game through Sahin Tayrell Csatios.

But the Bolton onslaught continued and Birtles turned provider for Alderson to grab his second and make the score 5-1.

Birtles added his fourth before Alderson completed the scoring, latching onto Standring’s through ball to complete his hat-trick late in a dominant display from start to finish.

“We were expecting a very tough fixture, we know a few of their lads and we were right up for it,” said Standring.

Unfortunately for them we were fantastic and showed what we can do when everyone’s on form.

“I must give credit to the front two who were ruthless in front of goal but it was a complete team performance and the home advantage again was massive.”

Now topping the table, BLGC are in the mix for the title, and promotion to Division One, and this weekend will hope to book their place in the semi-finals of the Murray Trophy when they go to title rivals Altrincham Hale.

But Standring admits they will need results elsewhere to go their way.

Though they climbed above previous leaders Altrincham with their impressive victory, the Cheshire side – with a game in hand – are level on points and are just one behind on goal difference.

Just behind them Tintwistle Athletic have five points to make up and three extra games in which to do it.

“We are top of the table but it will be difficult to stay there,” admitted Standring. “It’s going to be tight but we hope we can carry on going. We’ve beaten Altrincham twice and still have Tintwistle to play.

“Those two have a game against each other too, so we’ll just keep going.

“We’ll look to keep picking up points, but for now all our focus is on the quarter-final against Altrincham this week.

“It will be difficult, home advantage is massive for them, it’s a small run-down ground and it will be difficult to play on but we have a strong squad so we’ll go there with confidence.”

Premier Division side Bolton County exited the Gilgryst Cup with a penalty shootout defeat at home to Monton after a 1-1 draw.

Trailing late in the game, Bolton County forced the game to penalties with Jordan McLaughlin’s equaliser but they were then defeated 4-3.

n IN the Lancashire Amateur League Premier Division, Little Lever’s hopes of catching Old Boltonians suffered a blow with a 4-2 defeat at home to Prestwich.