Daten 1, Barnton 0: BARNTON'S ambitions for an eighth successive Mid Cheshire League title took a severe blow with a narrow defeat by the team they had beaten to win the League Cup four days earlier.
They dominated the match but conceded an early goal and could not break down a Daten side who were content to stick with the early goal they scored, keeping 11 men behind the ball at all times.
To make matters worse for Barnton, they lost the influential Dave Murray through injury straight after Daten scored, a poor tackle from behind leaving him with a badly damaged ankle.
Barnton did have chances but they were lacklustre and it is rivals Middlewich who have the title initiative now.
Barnton 1 Daten 0
BARNTON retained the MCL Division One Cup in midweek but missed chances left the issue open until the final whistle.
After a cagey opening 10 minutes, Barnton took the lead when Aidan Brodigan's fierce inswinging corner was glanced home by Jerry Coll.
A succession of chances was squandered and goalkeeper Rickie Motttram was a virtual spectator. They hit the woodwork four times in the first half through Clint Burton and Geghan, who also forced the keeper into a fine save from a free kick.
It was much the same after the break. Daten rarely got out of their half and Dave Murray, volleying over from six yards, spurned the best chance.
Crewe 0 Middlewich 2
MIDDLEWICH moved into second place and can now overtake Barnton after a comfortable victory.
They let three chances go by and might have been punished for it when Crewe went close before the break.
But once Rob Hopley had beaten his marker and volleyed home, there was no doubt about the outcome.
Defender Graham Kay, who scored double figures last season, grabbed his overdue first of the campaign, lashing home a Joey Roberts knockdown to secure the points. Lee Murphy lifted a late penalty over the crossbar.
LOSTOCK GRALAM left Moss Farm with the point they had set out for in their last game of the season, against WITTON ALBION RES, though they escaped when Jonny Edwards appeared to have been fouled in the penalty area in the final minutes.
WINSFORD RES crashed to their worst defeat of their first season, 12-0 at Curzon Ashton.
In the Reserves Division, MIDDLEWICH remain top after winning 1-0 at Garswood and BARNTON stay bottom, beaten 5-1 at home by Rylands.
Tomorrow: One - Barnton v Knutsford; Saturday: One - Barnton v Crewe, Middlewich v Garswood; Two - Winsford v Padgate, Witton Res v Trafford Res; Reserves - Pilkington v Middlewich; Tuesday: Two - Nantwich Res v Witton Res.