WELL, Carl Macauley did ask that Witton Albion’s players show what they are made of.

And if Shaw Lane had any doubts, they won’t now.

Their hosts proved they have all the necessary ingredients to make a serious attempt at winning the title, something only a victory in this game could make them truly believe.

They had the Ducks, unbeaten in winning 14 of their previous 15 Northern Premier League matches, on their knees by the break.

Witton led 3-0, and referee Barry Lamb’s whistle to signal the interval felt like an act of mercy.

Brad Bauress had been opportunistic to put them in front inside five minutes, latching on to Neil Austin’s weak header to reach the ball before goalkeeper Jon Stewart.

He stretched to poke it into the net.

Northwich Guardian:

Brad Bauress stretches to put Witton Albion in front on Tuesday after intercepting Neil Austin's weak back-header. Picture: Keith Clayton

Albion rode their luck when Kieran Lugsden’s attempt whacked the inside of an upright from the restart, and they made doubly sure they cashed in.

Tom Owens and Prince Haywood had both shot wildly after drifting into a shooting space before a second goal arrived on 36 minutes.

Fortune favoured them a second time, with Paul Williams’ drive deflecting past a stranded Stewart after brushing Steven Tames’ cheek.

Tails up, Witton could barely disguise their glee when they netted a third shortly before the break.

Haywood conjured an opening after swerving away from Oscar Radford, but Stewart blocked Bauress’ initial effort.

He recovered to make a stunning save when Tames followed up, but was helpless to prevent the latter’s next attempt from sneaking into the corner.

Northwich Guardian:

Steven Tames squeezes the ball through the narrowest of gaps to put Witton 3-0 up against Shaw Lane on Tuesday. Picture: Keith Clayton

Ragged, and dishevelled – a startled Shaw Lane hadn’t been in this position previously.

But then they haven’t run into an opponent with the verve demonstrated by Albion.

Bizarrely, the opening period proved no guide for what was to follow.

However there was no storm for Witton’s defence, initially at least, to weather.

They were breached though on 59 minutes, when Gary Burnett blasted past Ryan Crump after darting on to Kieran Lugsden’s clipped pass and holding off Anthony Gardner’s challenge.

When Ryan Qualter prodded in a ball dropped at his feet by Crump three minutes later, it was Witton’s turn to quivvver.

Their custodian redeemed himself with a stunning reaction stop when a shot was jabbed his way on 72 minutes, then dived smartly to turn Gavin Allott’s drive around a post.

A lesser side may have wilted, pummelled as Albion were by long balls pumped towards their giant forward by Shaw Lane players in expectation more than hope.

But Albion resisted, at times unconvincingly, in the face of a swirling wind.

They almost pocketed the points with a stylish counter, started by smuggling clear a set-piece, only for Gardner to be denied by Stewart’s intervention.

Albion’s skipper turned and sprinted all the way back to his station – a snapshot of the hosts’ answering their manager’s call.

Shaw Lane still occupy top spot, and are six points clear of their conquerors having played a game more.

But theirs is no procession to the Division One South title; now they’re in a race.

Witton | 4-4-2 | Crump (GK), Gardner, Lycett, Wilson, Devine, Haywood, Owens, Williams (Jones 64), Bauress, Hopley, Tames Subs not used Noon, Omotola, Hickman, Hinchliffe Goals Bauress 4, Tames 36, 43 Booked Haywood (foul)

Shaw Lane | 4-3-3 | Stewart (GK), Austin, Kelvin Lugsden, Qualter, Radford (Algar 61), Kieran Lugsden, Istead (Thomas 80), Harris, Wafula (Brewster 87), Allott, Burnett Sub not used Zaniewski (GK) Goals Burnett 59, Qualter 62 Booked Istead (foul)

Referee Barry Lamb

Attendance 328