Division One title favourites Swinton Athletic Reserves get their promotion campaign back on track next weekend on the back of a morale-boosting 4-1 victory... over the club’s U21s!
Manager Ryan Jones organised the friendly against his own club’s youngsters to keep his players fit and match-ready, after every game in February was washed out.
Athletic’s last Division One game was played on January 18 - a 4-0 win at Harworth Colliery - and they currently have four games in hand on leaders F.C. Central, who they trail by a point.
With Central having completed their fixtures, however, Swinton’s biggest threat for the title comes from below them - with third-placed Scawthorpe Scorpions trailing them by just three points.
A brace from Mark Clare, added to strikes from Phil King and Daniel Crossland, gave the Reserves a 4-1 win over Swinton’s U21 side, run by Martin Rouane, and Jones said: “Although I am not a big fan of inter-club friendlies, it was a good run out for us against a well-run side.
“The result did flatter us slightly, as the young lads gave a good account of themselves.”
“Five weeks without a league game has felt like a lifetime,” Jones added.
“Especially when we are pushing for the title.
“Having no game for that long can have a massive effect on the players, so we have had intensive training sessions and a friendly. I have been trying my best to keep the lads hungry, and keep alive the fighting spirit we have shown all season.”
Swinton restart their title quest on March 8, away at Brodsworth Welfare.
A haul of seven points from their four remaining games will be enough - especially as they still have to face another title rival in Dunscroft United.
“Those are two very tough games,” Jones continued.
“But if we want to win this league, then games like these are how we earn it.
“The lads and I are really fired up, and ready to bring that title back to Swinton.”
Hemsworth MW, meanwhile, strengthened their grip on fourth spot with a 4-0 win at Yorkshire Main. Graham Phillips, Andrew Davis, Lee Carrington and Steven Brown all hit the target.
In Division One, Scorpions beat FC Central 8-3, with four goals from Ryan Walker.
Joshua Walker, Mitchell Wain, Matthew Hayes and Cameron Jones also chipped in.
Bentley Pumas, still looking for their first win, remained rooted to the foot of the table following their 5-2 home defeat against Dunscoft United.
Jamie Hindson (2), Martin Gorman, Andrew Goddard and Karl Kennedy did the damage for United.
Bawtry Town climbed several places on the back of a 3-0 win over visiting Harworth.
Brodsworth Welfare were left kicking their heels again as a result of their game at Ackworth falling victim to a waterlogged pitch.