Swinton Athletic boss Ryan Jones hailed striker Mark Clare, after his hat-trick helped the table-toppers to a 4-0 win over Harworth Colliery.
Athletic, playing their first game since the Christmas break, did not let a lack of match practice affect them as they surged five points clear of second-placed FC Central in Division One of the Doncaster Senior League.
“After such a long break, I was worried that the lads would be match rusty,” Jones admitted.
“But they showed me the quality and the hunger that they have had all season, to get straight back to business and keep us in the hunt for the title.
“To be honest, I thought Mark was quiet, and he ended up with a hat-trick!
“That just shows he is a natural finisher. There are always goals when Mark is around, and I hope it continues during the title run-in.”
Swinton dictated the pace of the game from the start, and it was no surprise when they went ahead. Good work from Tony Davies and skipper Ricky Parker set up Scott Bell, who beat the Harworth goalkeeper with his looping header.
That man Davies was again heavily involved in Swinton’s second, crossing for Clare to finish first time with a low drive into the net.
Swinton goalkeeper Jason Warren was tested for the first time in the second half, from a fierce shot following a failed penalty appeal from Harworth. Swinton weathered the storm, and a counter attack from inside the Swinton box lead to their third.
Scott Jones picked up the ball and ran at the Harworth defence, his shot was parried and Clare reacted quickest to stab home his second.
The returning striker then sealed his hat-trick, and Swinton’s fourth, with five minutes left on the clock.
Clare broke into the Harworth box and was fouled. The striker picked himself up and dispatched the penalty with ease to the keeper’s right, to cap the comfortable win.
n Sutton Rovers booked their place in the quarter -finals of the Doncaster & District FA Challenge Cup with a 2-1 win over Hemsworth Town Terriers.
Rovers, who will now meet Denaby Main, secured victory over their fellow Doncaster Senior League Premier Division strugglers in their delayed third round tie, thanks to goals by Tom Doherty and Darren Smith.
Reece Allen claimed the Town consolation.
Armthorpe Markham progressed into the last four after beating visiting Yorkshire Main by the odd goal in seven.
Craig Trewick bagged a brace for the winners with Jamie Truman and Daniel McNeil also getting in on the act. Ricky Cauldwell (2) and Adam Butler shared out Main’s consolation goals.
Denaby Main strengthened their grip on third place with a 5-1 win over Hemsworth MW in the only Premier Division game of the day.