MIDDLEWICH Town have wrestled the title initiative from Barnton.

If they win their remaining five games, they will be Mid Cheshire League champions following Barnton's latest slip - a defeat at Daten.

'Things couldn't be going any better for us,' said manager Terry Murphy, who also confessed he was on the verge a few weeks ago of promoting several reserve-team players and writing the season off.

'It is in our hands at last, but we have got some difficult games, including Daten, and they have just shown what a threat they can be.

'And people keep forgetting Poynton - they can still win it, too.

'The players have got to keep their heads. Knowing we can do it is different to doing it.' Murphy admitted on this page less than two months ago he had discounted the title. But since then his team has hit a rich seam of form and Barnton have made the mistakes necessary to keep the issue open.

'I'd given up on it. I was thinking of playing some of the young lads from the reserves in the remaining games and I was not far off doing it.

'I was aware that if I had done that then we might have lost some of the first-teamers, and that was the only thing that was holding me back.

'But we have beaten Barnton three of the four times we've played them and that in itself is brilliant.

'The team is playing well and everybody is fit - I've got too many players to choose from!' Even more now that David Dale has returned to the squad following a short break for personal reasons.

Whether he will jump straight back into the line-up for the visit of Garswood United on Saturday is open to doubt.

The chances of a Middlewich double are growing - the Reserves still lead their division with five games remaining.