STEVE Wilkes did not hide his frustration after Northwich Victoria’s winning run was halted by Runcorn Linnets last weekend.

The Vics boss believes his side were better than the result suggests, and was left frustrated too after defender Allen Weston was left with a fractured cheekbone after being elbowed by an opponent.

Mitch Bryant was cautioned for a second time, and subsequently sent off, for his part in the incident.

“Allen has sustained a serious injury thanks to a player that should have been shown a red card earlier,” said Wilkes.

“I’m convinced we’d have got something from the game had he not gone off.”

Vics had rallied from 3-0 down, thanks to goals from Brian Matthews and substitute Matty Clarke, when the former City of Liverpool man left the field.

Paul Shanley then made safe maximum points for 10-man Linnets with three minutes left.

Earlier, the visitors had been thwarted by debutant goalkeeper Germano Mendes’ inspired form.

Matthews thought he was offside when, unmarked, the ball arrived at his feet inside the six-yard box.

He did not make a clean contact, and the home team’s new recruit saved smartly.

Mark Houghton put Linnets in front after quarter of an hour, firing past custodian Mike Donlon after winning a foot-race to Bryant’s lofted pass.

Mendes produced a brilliant save to block Matthews’ close-range volley from Jay Hart’s cross, but it was the promotion-hopefuls that scored next.

Danny O’Brien and Adam Jones combined on the right, and the latter’s low cross was turned in by Houghton.

Bryant then scored a brilliant goal on the stroke of half-time, turning away from a defender before arcing a perfectly-placed shot into the top corner.

Vics started a recovery when Matthews finished neatly after being sent clear by Jordan Grant.

And their hopes were raised further when Clarke swept in a ball nudged into his path by Hart.

Bryant was then shown a red card for the second successive game – he had been dismissed in an FA Vase replay success at Sunderland RCA in midweek – after ending early Weston’s afternoon.

However Vics could not capitalise, and were instead the hosts settled the outcome when Shanley scored from substitute Freddie Potter’s cross.

Substitute Sam Fitton’s attempt rattled the woodwork late on.

Wilkes added: “We ought to have been 2-0 up before Runcorn scored, but we defended poorly and ended up trailing.”

Linnets | Mendes (GK), Atherton, Morris, Moore, O’Brien, Nolan, Molyneux, Jones (Potter 77), Houghton, Shanley, Bryant Subs not used Lawton, Gill, Ellison, Salt Goals Houghton 16, 37 Bryant 44 Shanley 87 Booked Bryant (ungentlemanly conduct) Sent off Bryant (second caution)

Vics | Donlon (GK), Grant, Johnson, Bickett, Lawrence, Weston (Gyimah 76), Gorman, Willis (Clarke 46), Matthews, Durnin (Fitton 46), Hart Subs not used McDonnell, Bennett Goals Matthews 70, Clarke 75 Booked Durnin (ungentlemanly conduct)

Referee Bob Roberts

Attendance 351