DEARNE and District’s ground has passed an inspection for the Northern Counties East League and they have also taken a step closer to reaching it on the pitch.

The Goldthorpe club found out late last week that their Welfare Ground had been approved for the NCEL for next season, but they may still need to win their current division. With five games to play, they are 12 points clear at the top although second-placed Doncaster City have three games in hand.

Manager Jason Blunt said: “Everyone at the club is delighted with the ground-grading.

“It’s been tough with the logistics and weather. The volunteers and committee have worked miracles. They had to put new dressing rooms, plumbing and electrics in, plus other things.

“The team might come and go but the ground is there for the community in the future. We’re ambitious and want to keep going up the leagues so there will be more work to do in the future.

“We’re not sure whether we’d go up in second anyway but we’re just focusing on winning the title.”

Dearne won 2-0 at home to SJR of Worksop on Saturday. Baz Lowe and Curtis Wilkinson scored.

Doncaster City played SJR on Tuesday and drew 1-1.

Blunt said: “We would have taken where we are at the start of the season. We’re currently in the driving seat.

“But we’re trying not to take anything for granted. Doncaster City have games in hand. They have got eight games left in less than a month. That’s tough for part-time players who work. We have excellent strength in depth and five games left, one a week, which suits us.”

Dearne have won 22 of their 25 games this season, drawing two and losing once at Doncaster City who brought in ex-professionals Ross McCormack, Charlie Mulgrew and Wes Hoolahan just for that game. Blunt said: “It shows the quality of our players and what a club needed to do to beat us. I am more disappointed because we should have won it. It worked out well for us in some ways. We signed their top-scorer Shay Evans-Booth who got left out in that game.”

Doncaster City now host another Barnsley side in Cudworth-based Elite AFC on Saturday.

Elite won 7-0 at Woodhouse Colts on Saturday. The scorers were Ben Davies, twice, Sam Limber, Jacob Swales, Bartek Chrobak, twice, and Sammy Amissah.

They are fourth in the table with 44 points from 25 games, and five to play.