DEESIDE Ramblers edged closer to the North League Premier Division championship at the weekend.
Their 6-1 success at home to relegation-threatened Bowdon 2nds stretched their winning run to eight matches and maintained their five-point lead over second-placed Oxton, who overcame third-placed Leeds Gryphons.
With five games of the season to play, the table-topping Ramblers know the title – and an instant return to the top flight of English hockey – is theirs to throw away.
They also know that more performances like the one they produced against second-from-bottom Bowdon on Saturday will ensure the unthinkable does not happen.
The Tarporley outfit were convincing, taking a 4-1 lead into half-time and adding a fifth goal straight after the restart to end any hope the visitors had of making a comeback.
Ibby Latif (3), Jonny Verity, Andy Traynor and Ali Ghazanfar – from a short corner – shared the strikes for the dominant hosts, whose defence was at its rock-solid best.
Ramblers 2nds gave their North West League Division One survival prospects a huge lift by winning an extremely closely fought contest at fellow strugglers Bowdon 3rds 5-4.
There were five minutes left to play when Callum Guy netted a wonderful winner, his rasping shot from the edge of the circle flying into the roof of the net.
Will Wilson, Wesley Bollard and Phil Johnson had earlier struck for the Ramblers.
Captain Piers Fielding hit a hat-trick as resurgent Ramblers 3rds won 4-1 at Chester 3rds, who were unable to cope with the speed at which their opponents moved the ball.
A last-minute winner from John Porter earned Ramblers 5ths a 2-1 victory at home to Oxton 4ths.
Neil Green got the home side’s opener.
Ramblers Badgers won 8-2 at Oxton Badgers thanks to efforts from the four-goal Dan Verity, Fraser Smellie, Harry Hill and Dan Davies.