GOALS have been scarce in this part of Northwich this season and Witton Albion will feel relieved they arrived from unlikely sources in this game.

They deserved a lead established by Cesaire’s composed finish but it felt slight until AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ full-back Zack Reynolds diverted Danny McKenna’s teasing cross into his own net.

By then the home team had run out of attacking players after captain Rob Hopley limped off and so were grateful for a helping hand.

It deflated their guests, who never looked likely to avoid a fourth successive defeat in meetings between these two teams.

And yet the Southern League side started purposefully.

James Foley was swift to block Nathan Hicks’ drive, while at the other end Hopley’s header called goalkeeper Ben Heath into action after Matty Devine’s forward surge on the left.

Diamonds continue to threaten, and Ben Farrell’s blast was too powerful for Albion custodian Greg Hall to tame and he was relieved when front man Tom Lorraine blazed the loose ball over.

That miss will have felt costly when Witton took the lead on 20 minutes, Cesaire steering the ball out of Heath’s reach after running on to Tom Owens’ defence-splitting pass.

It is only his second goal for the club less than a fortnight after breaking his duck during an Integro League Cup reverse against Kidsgrove.

The Northwich side conjured another opening from their first attack after the interval when Foley invited McKenna to surge into the penalty area.

However Heath was swift from his line to block a poked effort from the midfielder.

Rushen again responded, although Lorraine’s header from Hicks’ cross lacked power.

There was a blow for Witton when Hopley succumbed to a knock and, with Will Jones unavailable and Delial Brewster injured, they were left without a striker.

However a reshuffle, which saw Owens moved to the point of their attack flanked by Foley and McKenna, hadn’t enough time to settle before Jack Westbrook’s header clattered the woodwork from Hicks’ set-piece.

Albion looked more assured by the time River Humphreys stretched to divert Josh Wardle’s flick-on from Foley’s corner against the crossbar on 66 minutes.

And a spell of sustained pressure earned a reward on 71 minutes when Reynolds, conscious that Foley was behind him and certain to pounce, sliced McKenna’s curling centre past a helpless Heath.

Their opponents then wilted after Lorraine’s header, following a mistake by Hall, was smuggled off the line by an alert Wardle.

Feeling emboldened, and in control defensively with Humphreys at his commanding best, Witton threatened to win by a wider margin and Heath was alert to save Owens’ low effort after Devine’s clipped pass reached him with space to exploit.

It didn’t matter, because Witton were already far enough in front to be certain they would savour a fourth successive win against these opponents.

Witton | 3-5-1-1 | Hall (GK), Goulding, Humphreys, Wardle, Gardner, McKenna, Foley, Cesaire, Devine, Owens, Hopley (Noone 51) Subs not used Wilson, Booth, Yates Goals Cesaire 20, Reynolds 71 (own goal)

Rushden | 4-3-3 | Heath (GK), Reynolds (Hopkins 77), Dolman, Ashton, Brown, Farrell (Clifton 84), Westbrook, Hicks, Bowen, Lorraine (Barrett 77), Diamond Subs not used Casey, Pickworth (GK) Booked Ashton, Farrell (both fouls)

Referee Dale Baines

Attendance 300