WINSFORD United, like every other pretender before them this season, succumbed to pacesetting Runcorn Town.

However Blues gave the table-toppers a scare on Monday night.

Frustratingly for player-manager Lee Duckworht, they did so after trailing by three goals at the interval.

The visitors served a warning when Mark Reed’s attempt flashed wide, while at the other end Justin Pickering was denied an opening goal by a retreating defender after he had evaded goalkeeper Reece Aires.

Runcorn took the lead midway through the opening period when captain Simon Thelwell converted direct from a free-kick needlessly given away on the edge of the penalty area.

A second goal followed quickly when Craig Cairns was ruthless to punish a mistake by full-back Damian Skolorzynski when his header back towards Michael Langley fell short.

When Reed made it 3-0, after meeting Thelwell’s cross with a header, it appeared the game was up for Blues.

However the home team demonstrated their resolve to score shortly after the restart when Duckworth applied a finishing touch to Callam Gardner’s free-kick.

Winsford’s hopes were raised further when Perry Bircumshaw, their most impressive performer on the night, steered smartly past Aires to narrow a gap between the teams further.

Teenager Robbie Hatton had a glorious chance to level when he came face-to-face with Aires, but his attempt was blocked.

Runcorn remained predatory, and Reed claimed his second of the game with another close-range header.

Winsford | Langley (GK), Skolorzynski, Lee Duckworth (Middleton 80), Rothwell, Kerr, Foster, Pickering, Hopper (Sherwood 60), Hatton, Gardner (Steele 79), Bircushaw Subs not used Fowles, Joe Duckworth Goals Lee Duckworth 47, Bircumshaw 54

Runcorn | Aires (GK), Dowling, Carberry, James, Jarrett, McManus (Jones 63), Holt, Evans (Roxburgh 80), Thelwell, Cairns, Reed (Dobie 82) Subs not used Maguire, McGregor Goals Thelwell 24, Cairns 29, Reed 41, 70

Referee Daniel Bruce

Attendance 144

Match report by Steve Wright