CLEE Hill boss Wayne Whitbread hailed his ‘fantastic’ players after they moved within one win of the Herefordshire League Premier Division title by beating derby rivals Tenbury United 5-0.

Hill have spent much of the season chasing leaders Wellington Reserves but are now just two points behind with four matches to go – and the table-toppers have completed their fixtures.

Whitbread’s men will seal the title if they claim victory in another derby, at Tenbury Town, this Saturday, and the manager hailed his players’ monumental effort to arrive at this position.

He said: “We couldn’t have dreamed of it really – we have been thinking we couldn’t afford to drop points but with Wellington slipping up it’s gone the other way.

“I think the turning point was when we went to Wellington and beat them on their own patch.

“There has been a lot of pressure on us but the lads have thrived – whether it’s been through our attacking football or just rolling our sleeves up, they have got the job done week in, week out.

“We thought the title race would go right to the end so to have the chance to win it with three or four games to spare shows how fantastic the lads have been and how well they have performed.”

On the chance to secure the title this weekend, Whitbread added: “It would be nice to get it done as soon as possible, then we can relax and enjoy the last few games.

“But Tenbury Town are battling hard and we will take nothing for granted, just like every game we have approached in the last few weeks.”

Hill were made to battle last Saturday with goals from Josh Carpenter and Craig Breakwell giving them a somewhat fortunate half-time lead.

Free-scoring Carpenter added two more after the break to complete his hat-trick and Ollie Smith also netted to keep Tenbury United third-bottom.

Tenbury have won just once in 2019 but joint-boss Aaron Morris said there was no shame in losing to ‘by far the best team in the league.”

He added: “We have struggled with availability, with lads having other commitments. We will try to consolidate and maybe bring in some new faces next season.”