CLEE Hill United boss Wayne Whitbread paid tribute to his “first-class” players after they sent him into seventh heaven by retaining their Herefordshire League Premier Division title.

Whitbread’s United thrashed Hinton 7-2 to claim the crown with one game of the shortened season to spare.

Hill, champions in 2019, were in contention for a second successive title last season but the coronavirus pandemic curtailed the campaign.

After the winter lockdown, league chiefs split the table into two to avoid a similar fate – and United have won all four games thus far to emerge as worthy winners.

“I wasn’t 100% sure we should have started again but luckily everything has gone well and I can’t give the players enough credit,” Whitbread said.

“In such a stop-start, stop-start season, for them to maintain the fitness levels and commitment they have, they’ve been brilliant – and the quality of play they have produced has been first class.”

Clee Hill’s goals came from seven different players as Craig Breakwell, Ryan Clarke, Stevie Preece, Liam Whitbread and substitutes Chris Breakwell, Steven Eddies-Davies and Ollie Smith all netted.

“Having seven different scorers was really pleasing – and the three subs who came on all scored which shows the strength in depth we have,” added Whitbread.

Clee Hill host Holme Lacy in their final league game on Saturday before the Herefordshire Charity Bowl final against Hereford Pegasus Reserves a week later.

“It’s going to be a hard game because Pegasus are a good side and they beat us earlier in the season, they’re the only team we lost to in the league,” added Whitbread.

“We beat them 2-1 in the first game back but that was a really hard battle and it will be the same again a week on Saturday.”

Ludlow Town Colts can attest to that after being swept aside by Pegasus 7-3 on Saturday, albeit after being reduced to ten men.

Jabez Smith set up Kieron Hollis to slot Colts in front but Pegasus levelled with a controversial penalty for a foul that Ludlow felt had occurred well outside the box.

To compound Ludlow’s anger, Mark Jones was shown a straight red card for the foul but despite falling behind, they went in at the interval level thanks to a Smith strike.

The numerical disadvantage told in the second half as Pegasus scored five more to run away with the game, although Ethan Schuck’s fantastic header did provide Ludlow with a third goal.

Tenbury United booked their place in the Herefordshire Junior Cup final with a 5-2 win at Ewyas Harold Reserves as Will Clutterbuck (2), Aaron Morris, Mike Foster and Chris Patton scored.

But it will not be an all-Tenbury final as Tenbury Town lost 3-2 at Fownhope in the other semi despite goals from Mark Boucker and Dec Bright.