IT'S MORE of a sprint than a marathon for West Midlands League Division Two leaders Church Stretton this season, with the Magpies having already completed half their fixtures.

And Scott Peever’s side did so in style at the weekend, battering AFC Bentley 9-0 at home to leapfrog title rivals Gornal Colts into top spot after the latter were held to a 4-4 draw in a high-scoring Black Country derby at home to Wolves United.

James Hill led the way for the Magpies with a hat-trick at the weekend, Dean Richards and Ashley Wells weighed in with braces and Tom Carter and Sean Gough completed the demolition to put Church Stretton two points – and 16 goals – ahead of Gornal with a game in hand.

“We’re normally playing catch-up,” said Peever, “it’s quite a unique situation for us to be top of the league at the halfway stage.”

The Church Stretton boss, who replaced Paul Smith in the summer, admitted Saturday’s opponents are “an unknown quantity” as he prepares to visit Welsh fifth-tier side Bishops Castle in the Shropshire Senior Challenge Cup.