WINSFORD United were thwarted by their lowly hosts on Saturday, when Scott Taylor was denied a last-minute winner by a spectacular goal-line clearance.

Blues were left to curse their bad luck too after substitute Danny Hudson’s header, from a Taylor cross, crashed against the crossbar.

However they did not have things entirely their own way.

Player-manager Lee Duckworth had to be alert to stop Lee Turner in his tracks early on before Justin Pickering miskicked a close-range attempt at the other end.

Damian Skolorzynski’s long-range effort flashed wide, while Turner fluffed a sitter with only goalkeeper Matthew Green to beat.

Darwen continued to create opportunities after the interval, and Jamie Edwards’ clever header dropped kindly for Green.

Winsford’s number one then proved decisive, saving brilliantly a free-kick he had conceded after picking up Skolorzynksi’s back-pass.

The visitors sent on Callam Gardner, and he almost conjured an opening goal for Rhys Webb with a cross the striker was inches from connecting with.

Hudson’s header followed, but Blues survived a scare when referee Ian Gittins turned down Darwen appeals for a penalty after Ryan McKenna took a tumble in the penalty area.

Substitute Ryan Steele fired off-target after finding a shooting space before full-back Mark Sharples contorted his body to prevent Taylor’s cross from finding the net.

Winsford’s share of the spoils was enough to take over fifth place in the North West Counties League top-flight table.

They return to action next Monday, when Maine Road visit St Luke's Barton Stadium.

Darwen | James (GK), Hodges, Sharples, Douglas, Lonsdale, Fofana, Edwards, McKenna, Lee Turner, Cassidy Subs not used Brown, Karl Turner, Jarrold

Winsford | Green (GK), Fowles, Skolorzynski, Sherwood, Duckworth, Foster, Taylor, Hopper (Gardner 58), Webb (Hudson 70), Rothwell, Pickering (Steele 70) Sub not used Osborne (GK) Booked Duckworth

Referee Ian Gittins

Attendance 99

Match report by Bob Astles