A JOE Thomas hat-trick fired Ross Juniors 1st XI to a comfortable 4-0 win at basement boys Civil Service.

Toby Boswell was also on target as the fifth-placed visitors took advantage of league leaders’ Fownhope’s 2-0 loss at Tenbury United to close the gap to the top to eight points in Herefordshire League One with three games in hand.

Worcester United still look favourites to lift the title though, two points behind Fownhope having played the same number of games as Juniors.

Juniors Colts also enjoyed a high-scoring win, a Keiran Young hat-trick and strikes from Callum and Louis Trotman and Ben Scotford securing a 6-3 triumph over visitors Staunton & Corse A in North Gloucestershire Division 3 to leapfrog Sling into third.

Fownhope 2nds held second-placed Worcester United 2nds to a 1-1 draw at home in Herefordshire Division Two, Damion Gallimore their marksman to leave them third.

Birthday boy Jordan Stokes got the wrong sort of card for Newent Town 2nds at home to Tuffley Development in the Hellenic League President’s Cup, as he saw red for a second half foul on the edge of the box.

The game finished nine v nine with cards being brandished like confetti as higher-placed Tuffley – the same club who had put the Daffs’ first string out on penalties in the Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup in midweek – held off a Newent comeback to win 2-1.

Ruardean Hill Rangers lost 2-0 at home to Little Stoke, Luke Johnson shooting straight at the keeper in a second half one-on-one to level things up before leaking a second with 15 minutes to go.

Rangers stay fourth from bottom but are safe from relegation with an 11-point buffer to the dropzone, with English Bicknor looking doomed six points from safety.

And Rangers still have the Les James Cup final to look forward to, although who their opponents will be and when the match will be played has been thrown into chaos, with the announcement this week that Wick have been removed from the competition for fielding an ‘ineligible’ goalkeeper in their 4-0 semi-final win over Little Stoke.

Meanwhile, Gloucestershire Northern Division Two basement boys Lydbrook Athletic have seven games to make up six points to escape the dropzone, but Saturday’s 6-0 loss at high-flying Falcons didn’t help them.

Staunton & Corse in 10th are probably safe after a 2-2 home draw with third-placed Smiths Barometrics, a first half Liam James brace securing a share of the spoils.

Lowly Howle Hill stunned hosts Broadwell Amateurs A 5-0 in their North Gloucestershire Premier clash, a Luke Gibbons brace and strikes from Adam Davies, Tom Shotton and Liam Williams making it a high-five performance, while a Tom Grange goal earnt second-placed Huntley a 1-1 draw at third-placed Bream Amateurs.

In Division One, Mitcheldean jumped to third with a 5-1 win at Yorkley, Charlie Meek and Adam Beaumont firing braces and Sam Dowle also on target.

Premiership Ruardean Hill Rangers 2nds were 4-1 losers at Division One high-flyers Soudley in the JO Roberts Cup, Kerry Powell scoring the consolation.

But second-to-bottom Division One outfit Lydbrook Athletic 2nds lost 4-0 at home to fifth-placed Woolaston 2nds, while their second-placed Division Three A string were completely outclassed by league leaders Lydney Town B, losing 7-1.

Mitcheldean 2nds won 2-0 though at home to third-placed Sling, Paul Taylor and Max Wilkes scoring the goals.

Howle Hill travel to Whitecroft 2nds tonight (Wednesday, April 6) for a league match, while Ruardean Hill Rangers A host Sling.

Fixtures this Saturday (April 9) include – Ledbury Town 2nds v Ross Juniors, Tenbury Town v Fownhope, Hereford Lads Colts v Fownhope 2nds, Moreton Rangers v Newent Town, Frampton United 2nds v Lydbrook Athletic, Kings Stanley v Staunton & Corse, Huntley v English Bicknor 2nds, Whitecroft 2nds v Ruardean Hill Rangers 2nds, Howle Hill v Redbrook Rovers, Milkwall v Longhope, Staunton & Corse 2nds v Rank Outsiders, Mitcheldean v Tidenham, Soudley 2nds v Ruardean Hill Rangers A, Staunton & Corse A v Lydbrook Athletic A, Ruardean United v Lydney Town B. Lydbrook Athletic 2nds are also in cup action next Tuesday night (April 12) away to Lydney Town A.