AFTER a week off the top, Middlewich became leaders again, scoring all their goals in the second half.
Their hosts were over aggressive and home striker Pierce was sent off after 30 minutes for a second bookable offence.
'The red card was already overdue,' said Middlewich boss Terry Murphy.
The half ended goalless but the second period was one-sided, with Town taking the lead from a penalty, Lee Murphy converting after Jonny Edwards was hauled down by the goalkeeper.
Edwards also scored twice - a far post header and from a solo run that showed his pace - and Graeme Kay was also on the mark. His header hit a post and he rammed home the rebound.
Rylands 0 Barnton 2: Barnton moved up to third but were slow getting into their stride against a poor Rylands side and got away with a genuine penalty claim early on before running out comfortable winners.
After a scrappy opening they took control with Tom Swann creating several good chances down the left side.
Paul Allen got the break through after 22 minutes with a superb header from a Mike Sandbach free kick and Barnton should have had the points sewn up by the break.
The scored again on the hour Dave Tasker netting from the penalty spot.
Manager Mark Came said: 'It was disappointing not to have won by five or six, but the lads have done brilliantly, especially when I have had to chop and change the side every week.'
Games involving Witton Res, Lostock Gralam and Middlewich Res were all postponed.
Saturday: One - Garswood v Middlewich; President's Cup - Lostock v Styal Res, Whitchurch v Barnton; Reserves Division Cup semi-final - Middlewich v Golborne.
* WITH an impressive 5-2 win at Winnington Avenue Res, Lostock Gralam Res went top of the Crewe & District League's Division One for the first time.
Grant Hickton (2), Ben Harrison (2) and Jim Kimber scored for the Grey Lambs, with Gary Nelson netting both Avenue goals.
Cuddington cracked in seven goals against Sandbach Wheatsheaf at Norley Road thanks to the marksmanship of Scott Taylor (2), James Brown, Ali Lea, Oliver James, Ashley Clarke and Ben Lawless.
In the Premier Division, Winnington Avenue went down 4-3 at Crewe Res, Winnington's goals coming from Andy Marler (2) and Tom Ashley.
Saturday, Arthur Cooke Trophy (2pm): Cuddington v Sandbach Town, Sandbach Utd v Lostock Res, Winnington Avenue v Crewe Res, Avenue Res v Curshaws.