Football: Chell Heath on course for county crown after seeing off rivals
CHELL Heath Knave brushed off the cobwebs to reach the last four of the Staffs FA Premier Cup on their first taste of action since November.
The Knave, still fighting for glory on four fronts, squeezed past Coors League title rivals Bignall End thanks to the clinical finishing of Lee Cropper.
Now they are preparing to take on Cannock side Belt Road next weekend in the hope that they can reach their second ever premier county final.
Knave were runners-up to all-conquering Blue Mugge in 2010, but secretary Chris Harvey reckons they are a better team three years on.
"We have grown up as a side," he said.
"We have had more experience of playing in big games at big grounds like Vale Park and we know what to expect.
"It will be tough travelling down to Cannock, but we can go there full of confidence."
It was tough enough in an end-to-end battle against Bignall, who had previously knocked Knave out of the Coors League Cup.
Cropper broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, but nerves were not settled until he added a second with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Harvey said: "It's always a hard fight against Bignall and we had Craig Turner to thank for clearing a shot off the line. His brother Mark Turner, in goal, played well, too.
"Ash Frost hit the post for us, but Lee put away his two chances and that was the difference.
"We play Bignall again in the Coors League Premier Division Cup and we're sure it'll be another tough test."
Knave's inactivity means they sit fifth in the league standings, 11 points off pace-setters Gardeners Arms, but with four games in hand.
Their cause was helped by strugglers Biddulph Moor Wanderers, who ripped up the form book to draw 1-1 at Gardeners in their local derby at Mill Hayes, Biddulph.
Kevin Knox gave Wanderers the lead shortly after the break, but Jack Watson equalised almost immediately and Gardeners laid siege to the Biddulph Moor goal without further reward.
That result lifts Biddulph Moor off the bottom ahead of Vine Inn, who lost 5-1 at home to The Waggon, who scored through Craig Cookson (2), Tom Smith, Ashley Heath and Sam Smith. Two goals from Karl Gerrity helped Trent Tavern to a 4-3 win at Cobridge Community Centre and Miners Arms closed the gap on third place by beating Castle Borough 5-2.
Joe Lovatt and Paul Meir both bagged braces to add to a strike from Mark Brazier to earn Miners three points.
AFC Alsager reaffirmed their Division One title credentials with a 9-4 walloping of third-placed Polonia. Dwayne Spence found the net four times and Matthew Dale twice.
Goals from Scott Cotton and Lee Mellor helped Blurton Club beat Silverdale Athletic 2-0 and stay on the fringes of the promotion race.
Third-placed Stoke Vans ensured they stayed in touch with the top two in Division Two by beating fourth-placed AFC Crompos 2-1. Mark Barnett and Ryan Locker were on target.
Brown Edge continued their battle for safety with a 1-1 draw against White Lion, while Northwood Merx increased Furlong's relegation troubles by beating them 2-0 with first-half goals from Mark France and Carrington Turner.
Vodafone go top of Division Three after beating bottom side Smithfield 4-0 with goals from Moses Adegoke, Daniel Malpas, Scott Bew and Sean Nixon.
Newcastle and Hartshill edged past previous leaders Smallthorne 3-2 thanks to two goals from Jamie Hagan and another from Ryan Grocott.
Free-scoring Biddulph Arms were at it again in Division Four, finding the net six times at Canal Tavern, but remain two points behind second-placed Tavern.
Mathew Rowan and Thomas Roper both scored twice while Kevin Cockerton and Rory Rain got in on the party too in a thrilling 6-4 triumph. David Harry netted a hat-trick for Tavern.
AFC Moorlands moved eight points clear at the top by demolishing Stoke Rovers 6-0. Luke Hopkins scored a hat-trick and Chris Matthews, Josh Burt and Kieron Watson also got in on the act.
Chris Locket jnr knocked in four as Weathervane thrashed Newchapel Rangers 10-1 in the Tatters Trophy.