TOTTINGTON St Johns are closing in on promotion from Division Three West in the GMCL, with the club believing they will have achieved success “the hard way” if they complete the job over the final three weeks.

Tottington are currently joint second on 72 points with Bury seconds, although narrowly ahead with a better net run-rate and more wins – 13 to 12.

Wigan side Hindley St Peters are also in the mix on 69 points, with Tottington and Hindley meeting in the final round of fixtures next month when Bury face runaway leaders Roe Green seconds.

On Saturday, Tottington won at struggling Irlam by six runs after narrowly defending a 136 target.

And if they secure promotion, it will be their second in a row and a particularly impressive one given they have been playing all their home games at Radcliffe due to renovations at their Crompton Meadows base.

“It’s in our own hands, but it’s very competitive for that last spot.” said opening batsman Kieran Coe.

“Saturday was a great win. We’ve lost to Irlam twice this year and they’re second from bottom.

“It’s been a bit of a funny season like that. They’ve beaten us in the league and cup, so they were starting to become a bit of a bogey side.”

After the visitors lost the toss on a wet pitch, they slumped to 61-7 before Michael Watts led a recovery to 135-8 with an unbeaten 33.

In defence, new ball seamers Ryan Wilkes and Simon Marsh, two of the division’s most prolific bowlers, shared all 10 wickets as the hosts were bowled out for 129.

Wilkes finished with a season’s best 6-48 from 14 overs and Marsh 4-39 from 11.1 overs.

“Our bowlers have been fantastic. Ryan and Simon shared the wickets on Saturday, and the combination’s pretty good,” said Coe.

“Simon is a medium pacer and Ryan has good wheels.

“They’ve been backed up by young Nathan Hall, who I think is only 14, and Matthew Wilkes.

“Our bowling line-up is one of the best, if not the best, in the league.

“But our batting hasn’t really been too consistent other than Bret Collins, who has more than 600 runs.”

Captain Collins is Coe’s opening partner but both failed on Saturday.

However, the former is the division’s leading runs-scorer with 621.

Coe describes himself as the “Geoffrey Boycott” of the two, and admitted: “We need to support Bret more with the bat if we’re to progress up the divisions.”

Coe is confident their home ground will be ready for the start of next season, although he admitted to weather challenges.

“It’s been a struggle not having home advantage,” he added, before hailing the second team as they also maintain a promotion push from Division Five North and East.

“For us to be looking at the possibility of going up to Division Two having been without a ground is testament to the spirit at the club.

“We’ll have certainly done it the hard way.

“If the seconds get promoted, they go up to Division Four, which is where the firsts were last year.

“We’re moving forwards as a whole club, not just the firsts. It’s fantastic.”