ROSS Speight has hailed the reaction of Middlewich Town’s players to being challenged after they held the Cheshire League’s title-favourites.

The Witches played the final 20 minutes of a 1-1 draw with Altrincham reserves a man down following Scott Twite’s dismissal.

However they almost pinched maximum points when Dean Burgess’ towering header from a corner was smuggled off the line.

“We asked questions of some lads and they answered them,” said the co-manager.

“It was a much-improved performance and that’s what we had asked for.”

Town took the lead at Seddon Street in the first-half when a corner was deflected into the net by a defender after the ball had been helped on by Callum Priestley.

A second goal might have followed before the break but skipper Jamie Petrie and Chris Lunn both failed to hit the target when they only had the goalkeeper to beat.

Alty dominated initially after the interval and Ben Elliott spun and shot in the same movement to restore parity.

Goalkeeper Charles Masters twice produced saves to keep Town on level terms before Twite was shown a red card pushing an opponent while they were both on the floor.

James Smith was denied by the visitors’ number one with time running out following Lunn’s superb break.

Speight said: “A draw was probably fair because both teams had spell when they were on top.

“What’s important for us is that we build on this result.”

Middlewich have slipped to fourth in the Premier Division table ahead of a trip to lowly Malpas on Saturday, kick-off 2pm.