LOSTOCK Gralam are not used to being front-runners in a race for promotion but co-manager Dom Johnson says his players can cope with the challenge.

The Grey Lambs took over top spot in Cheshire League One following a 3-0 win at Garswood towards the end of February and their lead is worth three points after they saw off Golborne by the same margin last weekend.

With six games left, their objective of returning to the top-flight after six seasons out of it feels within reach.

“We know how it feels to play catch-up,” said Johnson, who picks the team along with Dean Jones.

“And let me tell you we’d much rather have the points on the board than be chasing!”

At this stage last term the Northwich side sat 12th in the table and still had 15 matches left.

Halebank conceded one of those and they won 10, drawing two others, to finish sixth and narrowly miss out on promotion.

They trailed Broadheath Central for most of the current campaign after failing to win any of their first three fixtures.

However a run of 12 successive victories saw them close a gap to the pace-setters before overtaking them last month.

A 2-1 reverse at home to Vulcan in January risked being a setback, but Lostock have responded by winning the next four games in all competitions without conceding a goal.

Johnson said: “We didn’t play badly [against Vulcan], but it did bring us back down to earth.

“It was perhaps coming, and there were things that we wanted to address, but we didn’t want to rock the boat because we’d continued to pick up points.”

A 4-0 win against Winnington Avenue 1994 in the Mid-Cheshire District FA Saturday Challenge Cup was the exact response the Grey Lambs’ management duo were after.

Coincidentally, they turn attention to that competition on Saturday when they take on Middlewich Town reserves at Hartford Church of England High School at the semi-finals stage.

Lostock are the holders too after beating Barnton Wanderers in last season’s showpiece.

Johnson said: “We’re still in two cup competitions as well as trying to win the league and so it’s an important part of the season.

“If the lads want to be part of something memorable, then they have to turn up and carry on doing the things they have.

“We’re hungry, focused too, and whoever wants the trophy will have to wrestle it from us.”

Cuddington travel to Middlewich Town in the other semi-finals encounter on Saturday.

Both ties this weekend will be settled by a penalty shoot-out if the teams cannot be separated inside 90 minutes.

Kick-off in Lostock's game is at 1.30pm.