Two goals scored at the end of the first half brought Poulton Under-16s victory over hosts Kirkham in the only match of the weekend in the Blackpool and District Youth League.
It meant second-placed Poulton closed the gap on leaders Lytham Juniors Home Heat in the race for the Under-16 Alpha Gold title.
Fifth-placed Kirkham gave them a stern test at Coronation Road and it could have been different had not Poulton’s Joe Manford made two vital goal-line blocks in the first half.
Ben Marshall and Will Critchley went close to scoring for the home side but it was those clinical strikes just before the interval which made the difference.
Tim Sullivan finished a fine team passing move for the opening goal, then Oliver Medhurst doubled the lead with an excellent solo strike, using his strength to burst through on goal.
The pitch became increasingly heavy in the second half and Poulton had two further goals disallowed.
However, Poulton boss Adrian Manford admitted Kirkham had given his side a demanding test.
He said: “Our fitness enabled us to take over but take nothing away from Kirkham – they put us under pressure early on and gave us a run for our money.”
Kirkham manager Lee McLeod was delighted with his side’s efforts and said: “We competed well and gave them a really good game. It was a real midfield battle with chances for both sides.
“I think Poulton will win the league and we will probably finish around fourth. We’d settle for that and we’re doing OK.”
Poulton boss Manford acknowledged his side are favourites with their game in hand, and said a title win would be a great way for him to bow out.
He added: “I’ve done nine years with this side and have coached many of them since they were seven.
“This could be my last year and we have never won the title, so that would be a great way to finish.”
Josh Marshall was named Kirkham’s player of the match. The striker solved his side’s player shortage by moving back into central midfield and really got stuck in, putting in an outstanding stint.
Solid midfielder Michael Finch got the Poulton accolade. He worked his socks off in a typically tireless display.