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Title hopefuls turn up the heat on the table-toppers

The pack are bunching up behind table-topping Sedgley Rangers in the second tier of the Beacon Sunday League.

After the latest round of fixtures, no fewer than three clubs closed the gap on the early season pacesetters, who themselves had a free week.

It was a weekend when second and third-placed outfits, Brandhall Colts and AFC Bloxwich, three and five points down on Rangers respectively, faced each other and the outcome was a 1-1 draw.

In a close affair, Taylor Nolan gave visiting Brandhall the lead, before Bloxwich top scorer Luke Oakley kept up his impressive form by levelling the encounter just seconds before the break.

The outcome enabled Brandhall to move within two points of Rangers, who also have a crucial game in hand. Bloxwich, who have played one game less than the leaders, missed their opportunity to close within a point, but extended their unbeaten league record to six games.

Wombourne Athletic boosted their early season hopes with a vital 3-0 home triumph over Bushbury Hill as Brandon Malpass emerged the man of the match, notching all three goals and so securing third spot for his side.

Just two points now separate the next seven clubs in this section and, while AFC Sporting Gornal were going down 3-2 at home to Sedgley & Gornal United East, neighbours Gornal Rangers grabbed a top five spot on goal difference after drawing 1-1 with visiting AFC Goldthorne.

Jacob Alexander broke the stalemate for Gornal, before an own goal enabled Goldthorne to go home with a point.

AFC Willenhall climbed two places into the top six with a fourth league win in seven, running out narrow 4-3 victors over a battling Hagley United side.

Star of the show for Willenhall was hat-trick hero Robbie Abbotts, who fired the all-important -winner after his side had trailed 3-1 in a first half that witnessed no fewer than six goals with Baba Mohammed (two) and Scott Hykin responding for Hagley. Ben Harper also found the mark for Willenhall, who held on in the closing stages after having two red cards.

Two other mid-table clubs recorded well-earned victories and so consolidated their positions. Sporting Black Country and Kewford Eagles West picked up wins over Sedgley White Lions West (4-2) and Lane Head Titans (6-2) respectively.

Adam Hall fired a superb first-half treble for Kewford, who opened up a 4-0 interval advantage against Lane Head. Jack Moore (two) and Matt Finney made it six of the best for the Eagles, the replies from Cameron Hall and an own goal.

On the goal trail for Sporting BC was Jermaine Wilmott with a brace, supported by Luke Baynham and Yanick Prospere. The Lions, who are still seeking that elusive first league win, replied through Daniel Roath and James Hayfield.

Sedgley & Gornal United West, who have lost just once in five Paycare starts, are through to this weekend’s NDT Midlands Lester Charity Cup second round day after sinking Concentric League strugglers Gunmakers Arms 4-0.

United, who struck three in the first half, had Spencer Elcock notching a double, supported by Reece Duckers and Chad Colesby.

In the Concentric Championship, Claregate Park Rangers took over top spot after coming from behind to sink fellow title contenders and leaders Widdas FC 3-1 and so extend their impressive league start to five straight victories.

Widdas closed a tightly contested first half by snatching the lead on the stroke on half-time through Matt Foster.

However, a penalty early in the second period was put away by Claregate’s Kane Lewis and two further efforts from Tom Piggott and Rodney Williams enabled Rangers to open up a three-point advantage over their latest opponents.

It ended all square between two other early contenders as Blades FC and visiting Dudley Rangers United shared four goals.

After a tight, goalless first half, Dudley appeared to have the upper hand as they opened up a 2-0 lead through Kieron Hourihane and Adam Garmson. However, Blades were not finished and they stormed back to collect a vital point with two late efforts from Jack Hill.

There was a second league triumph for Sedgley Sporting as they ran out comfortable 7-0 home winners against Codsall Station. On target for Sporting were Tom Timmins, Brandon Parkes (both two), Leigh Edwards, Connor Stokes and Brad Lewis.

And there was a welcome first league win for CTS United as they beat visiting FC Premier U21s 6-2, with Jack Kelly firing a hat-trick, supported by captain Sam Stokes, Jack Clarke and Kieron Fellows. Best in reply were Gianni Singh and Josh Haden.

In the over-30s section, Casuals FC hit back to see off Old Oak Veterans 4-1. Stuart Hopcroft impressed for the victors with a treble.

This was one of two fixtures in the newly-sponsored Mini-Pro Golf Parks (Wolverley) Eastern section. In the other, Boca Seniors eased to a 7-1 triumph at Wombourne All Stars as Chris Jones (three), Jason Quinn, Ashley Evans, John Walton and Leigh Reed netted.

There was just one game in the Advanced Recruit Western Division where Springvale Albion Vets saw off newcomers MNF Stars 6-2, with five-goal Darrell Gillett top scoring on the day. Chris Tunstall made it six of the best.

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