WINSFORD United again failed to score against an opponent with ambitions to be promoted at the end of the season.

Runcorn were not convincing victors, but skipper Simon Thelwell’s first-half goal – when he reacted quickest after goalkeeper Matthew Green had parried Keiran Evans’ free kick – separated the sides at full-time.

It means Blues head to Atherton Collieries on Monday night without a victory in their past four matches.

They traded headed chances with their guests, Josh Maguire nodding off-target at one end before Chris Middleton did the same at the other – during an even opening.

However Winsford then suffered a blow of losing influential midfielder Dale Jennings, who limped off with a season-ending hamstring injury.

Town’s breakthrough followed, but Blues went close to a leveller before the break.

Nathan Cotterell teed up Jordan Johnson, but he dragged wide after the ball bobbled on a dry, hard surface.

Captain Kyle Riley then lobbed narrowly over from wide man Ryan Steele’s assist.

Winsford applied pressure during the early exchanges of the second period, when referee Daniel Hitchell turned down their appeals for a penalty after Johnson went down.

Riley’s goal-bound attempt, after he reached the loose ball, was blocked Joe Heath.

Green, restored to the side after Michael Langley was ruled out by an injury, saved brilliantly to prevent Runcorn doubling their lead.

Blues went closest to equalising when Riley’s glancing header, from player-manager Lee Duckworth’s free kick, was smuggled off the line on 72 minutes.

The same fate befell Cotterell’s follow-up.

Blues | Green (GK), Perry (Moores 73), Duckworth, Jennings (Rothwell 17), Foster, Middleton, Steele, Howell, Riley, Johnson, Cotterell Sub not used Hull

Runcorn | Mackin (GK), Maguire (Kearns 76), Evans, Woodward, Heath, Rodgers, Holt, McManus (Jones 71), Thelwell, Marsh (Jarrett 84), Exell Subs not used Cairns, McGregor Goal Thelwell 27

Referee Daniel Hitchell

Attendance 172