CALLAM Gardner grabbed a stunning winner as Winsford United upset leaders Runcorn Town on Saturday.

The wide man, recalled to the starting line-up by manager Lee Duckworth following an impressive cameo as a substitute in a Macron Cup success last time out, sent a swerving shot past goalkeeper Terry McCormick to settle the outcome.

It was worthy reward for Blues, who had previously given the table-toppers a fright at St Luke’s Barton Stadium last month.

Substitute Robbie Hatton almost widened the visitors’ margin of victory when he missed Perry Bircumshaw’s cross by inches.

Michael Carberry headed high for Town during the closing stages, while Hatton had an attempt smuggled off the goal-line and Gardner was foiled by McCormick’s stretching save.

Winsford had come from behind too.

Gardner’s first attempt flashed wide early on, while Rhys Webb’s drive from distance prompted McCormick to produce his best with a fingertip save.

At the other end, Blues’ custodian Matthew Green thwarted Thomas Crawford and captain Simon Thelwell failed to hit the target with a header after being left unmarked.

Runcorn took the lead on 21 minutes when Craig Cairns ran clear to score after the visitors had lost possession on the halfway line.

A leveller arrived a quarter-hour later after Ryan Steele left two defenders trailing before sending an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net.

Debutant Michael Thomas was next to go close, rising highest to meet Gardner’s set-piece with a header that brushed the woodwork.

Thelwell was wasteful once more after breaking clear, blasting an initial attempt straight at Green before firing wide after a rebounded ball fell kindly.

Bircumshaw timed a tackle perfectly to rob Cairns early in the second-half before Blues applied pressure to the hosts’ defence for a long spell.

Substitute Keiran Evans forced Green to work from a free-kick before Gardner’s decisive intervention on 73 minutes – a strike that earned merited award of maximum points.

Town | McCormick (GK), Turner, Carberry, Johnson, James, McManus, Exell, Crawford (McGregor 87), Thelwell (Evans 59), Cairns, Reed Subs not used Roxburgh, Maguire, Jarrett Goal Cairns 21

Winsford | Green (GK), Fowles (Lee Duckworth 79), Bircumshaw, Sherwood, Thomas, Foster, Gardner, Hopper, Koral (Hudson 59), Webb (Hatton 68), Steele Subs not used Rothwell, Joe Duckworth Goals Steele 35, Gardner 73 Booked Sherwood, Steele

Referee Peter Simm

Attendance 100