HOTSHOT Stuart Wellstead continued his fine form in front of goal with a hat-trick that sealed an impressive 3-1 victory at Padiham on Saturday.
It was the Blues’ third consecutive victory at the Lancashire club’s Arbories Ground and came courtesy of an excellent first-half performance from United’s youngsters.
Winsford survived an early scare when a long throw saw Lee Grannell forced into a save from Lee Morris but from that point Winsford took control.
Leading goalscorer Wellstead teed up Liam Prince but hit shot went wide and on eight minutes Nathan Southern broke clear and was unlucky to see his shot rebound off the bar.
It mattered little though as moments later the Blues took the lead when a fine through ball from Jim Morton found Wellstead who, after fending off two defenders, placed the ball wide of goalkeeper Sean Davis and into the net.
The visitors continued to press and the inevitable happened on 19 minutes when Craig Hoyland’s long run into the area was brought to an end by a trip and the referee had no hesitancy in pointing to the spot. Wellstead stepped up to strike the ball hard and low into the right corner of the net.
The shell-shocked home team regrouped and began to apply their own pressure forcing Blues keeper Grannell to make successive fingertip saves from Morris and Damien Morrison.
After the break United should have added to their lead when Southern shot straight at Davies but it was the home side who began to force the issue in their search for parity.
With ex-Winsford star Stuart Telfer running the midfield, the Blues’ defence was put under severe pressure for the next 20 minutes and it was no surprise when the hosts pulled a goal back through Chris Ridhalgh on 65 minutes.
But the small band of travelling supporters from the Barton Stadium breathed a collective sigh of relief when the points were sealed on 75 minutes as Wellstead’s speed created an opening for Tom Rutter who was then brought down by Davis.
Wellstead stepped up for the second time and smashed home an identical penalty to the first – hard and low to the right corner.
Padiham stepped up their efforts but the Blues’ rearguard held firm and now lie in seventh place in the Vodkat Premier.
Next Saturday, the Blues are in cup action with a visit to Oldham Town in the first qualifying round of the FA Vase (3.00pm). The following Tuesday, replays permitting, it’s back to league business when runaway leaders Newcastle Town are visitors to the Barton Stadium (7.45pm).