HARTSHEAD boss Nathan Jones has set his sights on top-flight football after his improving side showed their six-appeal in a 6-0 thrashing of struggling Ripon City.
Owan Asquith and substitute Callum Padgett both netted braces for the hosts to accompany goals from Jamie Wasley and Nicholas Lambert
And while newly-promoted Hartshead might sit only ninth in the table, five games in hand on league leaders Stanley United has Jones convinced that his side have what it takes to challenge for the top spot.
“There’s definitely belief in the camp that we can go on and really out do ourselves for the rest of this season, there’s no reason we can’t compete with the best,” said Jones.
“It’s always better to have the points on the table but, to be honest, we’re in a really good position, ninth with five games in hand puts us in contention to be pushing for top six at the very least, if not going all the way.
“I think personally that we have already over-achieved this season, the first year from promotion is always about establishing yourself in the league but we’ve shown that we’re better than that.
“We always knew that we would be looking at a strong year after the quality of our pre-season and the players brought in, but now with the position we’re in, I think everyone believes that promotion is possible.
“We have a young squad really, you could say it’s a bit of a bonus for us, not only are we young, hungry and desperate to win but we can build on it and prepare for future seasons.
“If not this year, promotion is the aim within the next couple of years definitely, the Premier Division is where we want to be competing.”
Leaders Stanley did not play on Saturday and Sherburn White Rose moved second with a 5-2 success at home to second-bottom Thornhill. Arran Hudson and Aaron Hodgson both netted braces to accompany Calllum Richardson’s goal.
Whitkirk Wanderers dropped to third after a 2-0 loss at Featherstone Colliery who moved 11th.
Fourth-placed East End Park drew a 3-3 thriller at fifth-bottom Leeds Modernians.
James Lee, with a double, and Phillip Gillett bagged the goals for Mod’s while Liam Clark, Ashley Hubbard and Adam Tunnicliffe scored for East End.
Over in Kippax, a 1-1 draw was fought out against Baildon Trinity Athletic; Patrick Williamson’s strike cancelled out by Andrew Radosavic’s.
Old Centralians ran out 1-0 winners against Aberford Albion thanks to Christopher Ward’s goal.
In the Premier, Leeds City’s title hopes were dealt a blow as they were held to a 3-3 draw at bottom club Knaresborough Town. Strikes from Sam Cook, Matthew Donnelly and Blaine Hobson notched the hosts a point.
Wyke Wanderers moved out of the dropzone with a 4-3 verdict at fourth-bottom Brighouse Old Boys. Richard Heins, Calvin Lee and Peter Kuleczko all netted for Brighouse but their efforts were cancelled out by an Ian Horrocks brace plus goals from Karl Fawcett and Gavin Turner.
Shelley moved sixth as Liam Berry, Gino Dignan and Bjorn Taylor all scored in a 3-0 win at home to fifth-bottom Otley Town while Hunslet Club enjoyed a 3-2 triumph at home to Wetherby Athletic.