WINSFORD found themselves desperately short of players on Saturday and, on a pitch which resembled a cross between a beach and a battlefield, they could not perform to their usual standard.
As a result they face an uphill task in the NWCFL Division Two Trophy semi-final 2nd leg on March 27.
All three subs - Danny Morton, Les Miranda and Mike Ashton - were injured and were names of convenience for the team-sheet.
Naive defending in the first half left a three-goal deficit that was always going to be a struggle to overcome and although they battered the New Mills goal in the second period they had only a 35-yard wonder-goal from Danny Topping to show for their efforts.
On a pitch of mud and coarse build-ers' sand, the hosts took just six minutes to take the lead when a cross from the left found the unmarked Carlos Meakin and he calmly slotted the ball home. The second, after 35 minutes, was almost a carbon copy, with Lee Bromley this time applying a far-post tap in.
Winsford might have clawed a goal back if Rob Hopley had been more alert to Mark Quinn's free kick, but he could only steer the ball wide.
New Mills made it 3-0 when ex-North-wich Vics striker Dean Butterworth turned a through ball past Mottershead's left hand.
Playing down the slope in the second half, Winsford looked much more like their old selves and created a series of chances.
Quinn was the provider once again on 49 minutes and his centre was so nearly scrambled home. Six minutes later Lee Duckworth's inswinging corner almost entered the net, but was guided round the post by a panicking defence.
The resulting corner was cleared as far as Topping and from fully 35 yards he drove in a shot that had the net bulging before Joe Boyle in the New Mills goal had flinched.
Winsford would have been happy to take a single goal deficit back to the Barton Stadium, but despite efforts by Duckworth and Dave Hanlon they remained two adrift - and it would have been worse but for an incredible late goalline clearance by Quinn.
United: Mottershead; Jarrett, Murray, Marsh, Porter; Topping, Quinn, Ashmole, Hanlon; Hopley, Duckworth.
Star Man: Mark Quinn, covered every inch of grass, mud and sand
Next Best: Danny Topping
Team Rating: 2
Match Rating: 2