DOM Johnson has said Lostock Gralam’s return to the Cheshire League’s top-flight next season will be a reward for those who have rebuilt the club.

The Grey Lambs made certain they will occupy a promotion position in League One following an impressive 2-1 victory at Blacon Youth, a direct rival, last weekend.

That success arrived nine years after a side from the village stepped up to the Premier Division for the first time.

“It’s one of those quirks that football throws up,” said Johnson.

“One of the lads shared it on Facebook on Saturday morning after it was flagged as a memory on there.

“I was part of the squad back then before an injury stopped me from playing and it’s great to match what they achieved.”

A point from their final fixture at home to Orford on Saturday will secure for Lostock the title.

And, after completing a double against the two teams immediately below them in the table, few would begrudge them moving to the next level as champions.

Their success is a reward for patient and careful improvement since Johnson and Dean Jones were appointed joint managers in 2015.

“We set ourselves a target then to reach the Premier Division within five years,” said the former.

“And so we’re ahead of schedule.

“It’s been a case of starting from scratch because only one player stayed that summer.

“That applies off the field too because we’ve had to make ourselves credible again.

“Nobody wanted to sponsor us, or play us in a friendly, because the club had struggled so much.”

Lostock took the lead against Blacon, the newly-crowned Cheshire FA Amateur Cup winners, when Alex Wilson met Danny Adjekum’s cross with a header.

Omar Ramo restored parity early in the second-half before Robbie Hatton scored a decisive goal, his 16th of the campaign, to settle the outcome.

“It was a battle and there were a few nerves before the game,” added Johnson.

“We had to reshuffle as well after losing one of our key defenders to an injury the previous week but we’ve built a squad that can cope with things like that.

“When the final whistle went, it was a great feeling and a buzz to see what it meant to everybody.”

Lostock Gralam conclude their campaign when they travel to neighbours Middlewich Town for a rearranged Mid-Cheshire District FA Saturday Challenge Cup final next Tuesday, kick-off 7pm.

The teams had been due to meet at Barnton last month only for heavy rainfall to prompt a postponement.