THE wheels seem to have come off Ross Juniors 1st XI’s title challenge as they were humbled 4-1 at home by basement boys Bartestree.
The hosts were well in the running to take top spot in Herefordshire League One this time last month, but three defeats on the bounce – the first a 3-1 loss at high-flying Worcester United and then a 3-0 defeat at league leaders Fownhope – has hit their momentum.
And while the previous two defeats were to title rivals, Saturday’s reverse to Bartestree, who had only won two games all season beforehand, is a major blow.
Juniors were level 1-1 at the break thanks to a Sam Thorne strike, but the visitors simply ran away with it after the break, scoring three unanswered goals.
Ross still have three games in hand on leaders and local rivals Fownhope, whose away game to Holme Lacey 2nds was postponed, but are now 11 points adrift.
With the 2nd XI pulling out of the Division Two season at the end of last month, it was left to the Colts to boost morale, a Keiran Young goal earning a 1-1 home draw with second-placed Lydbrook Athletic A in North Gloucestershire Division Three.
The result keeps fourth-placed Ross’ title hopes alive, currently lying nine points behind leaders Lydney Town B with two games in hand.
Nathan Scotford secured a point for Fownhope 2nds in Herefordshire League Two with a second-half leveller at home to Wellington Colts to stay third.
But while it may be the season for daffodils, Newent’s Daffs wilted at basement boys Moreton Rangers in Hellenic League Division One, losing 4-1.
Rangers blasted the visitors to lead 3-0 at the break, before Newent ‘drew’ the second period 1-1 thanks to a Frank Pemberton strike, with Jordan Cooper also hitting the bar.
And it was the same result at Wildsmith Meadow as the Daffs’ second string went down 4-1 to visitors Kington Town in Hellenic League Two West, Luke Stock scoring the consolation.
Les James League Cup finalists Ruardean Hill Rangers lost out 3-0 at Bromley Heath United, dropping them to 14th in the Gloucestershire County League.
And despite a Dorian Colling strike for Lydbrook Athletic at home to Bibury in Gloucestershire Northern Division Two, it couldn’t prevent a 2-1 loss which leaves them one off the bottom after Leonard Stanley drew 2-2 to go a point ahead.
Staunton & Corse also lost out 4-2 at home to Tewkesbury Town, Liam James scoring one in each half for the hosts as they stay 10th.
A second-half Ben Hall goal earned Howle Hill a 1-0 win away to Ruardean Hill Rangers 2nds to open up a three-point gap on the bottom two in the North Gloucestershire Premier Division, while second-placed Huntley were awarded a walkover against English Bicknor 2nds, who couldn’t field a team.
Damon Beaumont fired Mitcheldean’s consolation in a 3-1 loss at fellow Division One high-flyers Milkwall, the latter leap-frogging them to go third, while Staunton & Corse 2nds fell 2-0 at second-placed Soudley to stay eighth.
Staunton’s A team won 4-1 at home to Blakeney 2nds in the FJ Pope Cup, though, Jacob Balkwill, Charlie Benfield, Harold Head and James Riach hitting the target.
But in the same competition, Ruardean United lost out 4-3 at home to Broadwell Amateurs B, Gavin Kyte firing a brace and Liam Wilkins one in the losing cause.
Weston were on the wrong end of a 4-0 loss to second-placed visitors Lydney Town A in Division Two, a result which drops the village outfit to sixth.
And Mitcheldean 2nds missed out 2-1 at home to Lydney’s B Division 3 leaders, Joe Stephens with the consolation.
Fixtures this Saturday (March 19) include – Tenbury Town v Ross Juniors, Fownhope 2nds v Dore Valley, Newent Town 2nds v Evesham United Dev, Ruardean Hill Rangers v Sharpness, Broadwell Amateurs 2nds v Staunton & Corse, Leonard Stanley v Lydbrook Athletic, Howle Hill v Redbrook Rovers, Mushet & Coalway v Ruardean Hill Rangers 2nds, Soudley v Mitcheldean, Staunton & Corse 2nds v Tidenham, Longhope v Mushet & Coalway 2nds, Lydbrook Athletic 2nds v Soudley 2nds, Ruardean Hill Rangers A v Weston, Broadwell Amateurs B v Staunton & Corse A, Mitcheldean 2nds v Lydbrook Athletic A.