CARL Macauley said Witton Albion’s swift start was the reason they climbed to the top of the table as a reward for beating Stalybridge Celtic.

His side, which included new recruit Danny McKenna at full-back following his transfer from Runcorn Linnets on Monday, scored twice inside the first 20 minutes.

They did not look back.

“We buzzed for half an hour,” said the manager afterwards.

“We closed them down and were bright all over the field.

“It was a good position to get into at 2-0, and I couldn’t see them being a threat other than when they had a set piece or a throw-in.

“However the final quarter-hour of the first-half wasn’t good, not because we took our foot off the gas but rather that we went missing.

“They grew into the game, and had another spell where they put us under pressure shortly after half-time as well.

“Luckily for us, we scored the third goal at a crucial time to assume control again.”

Nick Ryan neatly turned in James Foley’s corner at the near post to put Albion ahead against his former club before Will Jones crashed a close-range shot past goalkeeper Craig Ellison to make it 2-0.

Liam Dickinson then fluffed a sitter for the visitors when he lifted the ball over the bar from inside the six-yard box with Witton custodian Ryan Neild out of position.

Celtic were reduced to 10 men in the moments before the break when skipper Danny Morton was sent off for a dangerous tackle that ended early Jones’ involvement.

Former Northwich Victoria manager Steve Burr sent on Ross Killock to strengthen his defence, withdrawing John Cofie, and his team responded after the interal.

Oli Roberts curled in a brilliant free-kick to halve the visitors’ deficit, and Aidan Chippendale arced an attempt narrowly wide of the target.

However the visitors’ hopes of a comeback were dashed when Steven Tames, another playing against his old employers, stroked in a penalty awarded by referee Dale Baines for a foul by Stalybridge’s goal-scorer.

And he repeated the trick on 74 minutes after Rob Hopley was sent sprawling, sending his side to the standings’ summit on goal-difference ahead of Shaw Lane.

Witton | Neild (GK), Gardner, McKenna, Hedley, Brown (Williams 76), Ryan, Haywood, Foley, Hopley, Tames (Greenop 89), Jones (Evans 46) Subs not used Wilson, Moore (GK) Goals Ryan 14, Jones 20 Tames 66, 74 (both penalties)

Stalybridge | Ellison (GK), Morton, Garvin, Wilkinson (Brown 84), Ashworth, Honeyball, Chippendale, Roberts, Dickinson, Julien (Charles 62), Cofie (Killock 45) Subs not used Bailey-Jones, Tongue Goal Roberts 52 Sent off Morton (foul)

Referee Dale Baines

Attendance 244