CLEE Hill United boss Wayne Whitbread insists Wellington are still clear favourites for the Herefordshire Premier title despite his side’s vital victory in last weekend’s top-of-the-table clash.

A Joshua Carpenter hat-trick – which took the striker’s tally for the season to an amazing 30 goals in 15 games – earned Hill a 3-2 win over the league leaders.

The victory moves United to within 11 points of the table-toppers but with four games in hand and a trip to Wellington to come later in the season.

Whitbread acknowledged the importance of the win but says United still have it all to do to reel their rivals in.

He said: “Wellington are still in control because we can’t afford to slip up any week, which is a lot of pressure on us.

“We know this was a brilliant result and a great performance but we can’t waste it.

“It keeps the race alive – if we had lost, we would have been 17 points behind and it would have been season over. Now we still have something to play for.”

Clee Hill fell behind early on but Carpenter levelled from the penalty spot after he was brought down and then put United ahead with a cool finish before the break.

Wellington levelled around the hour but Carpenter rounded the keeper to make it 3-2 and United stopper Scott Jordan made a great save to preserve the points.

Whitbread admitted Carpenter’s goal-scoring heroics – averaging two goals a game – are arousing interest from elsewhere but says the hotshot has vowed to stay with Clee Hill.

The manager added: “Josh has been approached a couple of times but he’s happy here playing football with his mates. He’s had a couple of offers from higher up but he doesn’t want to leave.”

Up next for United this Saturday is a trip to fifth-placed Fownhope, who Clee Hill thrashed 7-2 a fortnight ago.

But Whitbread warned: “They are a good side and for 45 minutes there was nothing between us that day. We have to be at the top of our game or we could slip up.”