JOSH Carpenter was the hat-trick hero as Clee Hill United moved to within a point of the Mercian League summit with a 4-0 victory at Madeley Sports.
Carpenter’s treble was supplemented by Oliver Smith’s strike as Wayne Whitbread’s men climbed to fourth and maintained the pressure on a day when challengers Rock Rovers blitzed leaders Childs Ercall 5-0.
In Division One, Craven Arms Town were brought back to earth with a bump in a 1-0 defeat at lowly Riverside.
They had rattled home 18 goals in two league victories – including an 8-2 beating of third-placed Oakengates Rangers – but found no way through at Oldbury Wells School.
Despite the unexpected setback, Craven Arms could still climb three places to sixth with victory in Saturday’s home match against Coven United.
Elsewhere, Brown Clee suffered a backlash from Oakengates in a 2-1 reverse and face a tricky trip to St Georges United on Saturday. Bishops Castle were left kicking their heels in the Montgomeryshire League Division Two after opponents Kerry reserves failed to raise a team.
There was a shock at the top of Herefordshire Division One as runaway leaders Tenbury Town saw their six-match winning streak end with a 4-3 defeat at Fownhope reserves.
Mark Boucker, Dec Bright and Keiran Fish made sure Tenbury stayed among the goals but they could not inspire a comeback from a 3-1 half-time deficit.
A 3-1 defeat at Weobley extended to five matches the winless run at Ludlow Colts.
Dan Griffiths was on the score sheet for the visitors but Dom Barnes, Jarred Canning and Paul Williams did the damage.
Orleton Colts Reserves now cannot escape the bottom two after a 20th defeat of the season, a 4-0 loss to Wellington Colts.
Richard MacDonald (2), Richard Palmer and Harry Wright consigned the flailing second string to yet another set back and unless they win all four of their remaining matches, starting with Saturday’s home match against Ledbury Town Reserves, bottom spot is a certainty.
Woofferton’s home clash with Ledbury’s second string was postponed and they now prepare to host second-placed Hereford City knowing any kind of result will all but seal the championship for local rivals Tenbury Town.
Orleton’s first team travel to Holme Lacy in the Premier Division hoping to extend an eight-match winning streak which has featured no fewer than 33 goals.
Although Kristian Morgan’s side is unlikely to overtake any of the teams above them, another success would go a long way towards cementing fourth spot.