Congleton Town 2 Winsford United 1
The Blues fell to a second successive single goal away defeat but the scoreline did not tell the full story as Winsford laid siege to the home goal for most of the second half but were unable to convert effort into goals.
With twin central defenders Dave Barnes and Dave Ridler recovering from illness and Tony Sayer’s knee injury responding slowly to treatment it was very much a makeshift defence that started the game.
They contained the Congleton forwards pretty well in the opening minutes but the visitors fell behind to a sucker punch on 12 minutes when Carl Nesbitt’s optimistic punt from 35 yards found the bottom right corner of the net.
There followed a period of pressure on the Blues goal and Michael Langley was injured keeping one effort out. The resulting corner saw John Bluck make a spectacular goal-line clearance.
Lee Thompson was making a promising debut for Winsford and it was his strength and skill that led to the equaliser on 37 minutes. He powered his way past two defenders and his shot was cleared only as far as John Bluck on the right. Although he had a chance of a strike on goal himself he chose a hard centre that was headed home by Les Miranda.
The Blues joy was short-lived as two minutes later the defence once again opened up, this time for Matt Woolley who powered a shot into the top right corner.
The visitors came out with renewed vigour after the break and both Miranda and Thompson, with a free kick, saw the ball go inches wide. The closest effort came on the hour mark when Darren Connell’s shot was turned onto the post by the Bear’s keeper Adam Wilkes.
That was to be the story of the rest of the game, as further efforts from Connell, Miranda and Dean Ennion proved fruitless. It was a fair performance by a team missing four key players but as in previous games their opponents were given too much freedom in midfield.
The Mid-Cheshire Senior Cup final between Winsford and Congleton will take place at the Barton Stadium on Tuesday April 1.
Ian Callaghan is out for the rest of the season as he goes in for his long-awaited knee operation. Tony Sayer is still some way off fitness but Dave Barnes, Dave Ridler and Lee Madin should be back for the next match.
On Saturday the Blues entertain title favourites Trafford (3.00pm).
UNITED: Langley; Clellan, Owens, Callaghan, Duckworth (Ennion 79); Bluck, Thompson (Kennedy 79), Showers, Sheppard; Connell (Mason 68), Miranda.