NORTHWICH Victoria saw off Silsden as comprehensively as the score-line suggests to continue their run in the FA Vase.

They did not need to be at their sparkling best and yet would have prevailed by an even greater margin had goalkeeper Sam Lee not repeatedly thwarted them in the second-half.

If Wembley remains a distance away, it is at least on the horizon.

And Steve Wilkes’ side, still to concede a goal in the competition this season, won’t have a queue of potential opponents wanting to play them at Wincham Park.

Silsden can vouch for that.

They arrived feeling fragile after losing seven of their past nine matches in the North West Counties League’s top-flight, a sequence that started in Northwich.

And they never looked likely to win on this visit from the moment Brandon Barski met Harvey Whyte’s corner with a thumping downward header that flashed inside the near post.

To their credit, the Cobbydalers didn’t crumble.

However they always gave the impression of a side hanging on.

Lee adjusted smartly to save Brian Matthews’ header, from a Joe Camozzi cross, after it had deflected off Craig Bentham.

Vics were not insistent by then, but they were in control.

The arrival of a second goal seven minutes before the break served to tighten their grip.

Lee made a rare mistake when he failed to keep hold of Joel Brownhill’s centre and Andrew Fitzgerald hammered the loose ball into the net via the faintest of touches from a retreating defender – his third goal in the past four games.

Silsden’s Joe Mitchell arced an attempt wide of the far post at the other end before the break from a rare foray forward.

The visitors started the second-half with more purpose, but without incision.

They were kept at arm’s length, and Vics created chances when they attacked.

Dom Craig fired high from an acute angle after Whyte slipped a pass into his path before Brownhill fizzed an attempt over.

His next effort from a free-kick was subtler, and Lee scrambled to turn the ball around an upright.

Their dual became a fascinating subplot, Silsden’s number one parrying the front man’s fierce drive before using his fingertips to diver Brad Cooke’s follow-up to safety.

Darrhyl Mason cut inside before drilling wide after Barski’s interception had set a counter-attack in motion before Brownhill cursed again when Lee stretched fully to stop another free-kick.

The net-minder was then swift from his line smother substitute Billy Whittle’s shot when he had a clear sight of goal.

Meanwhile Brownhill celebrated a goal his individual performance deserved with five minutes to go, dispatching a penalty into the bottom corner after Mason had been tripped.

It summed up Silsden’s afternoon that they registered a first shot on target in the third minute of added time when player-manager Danny Forrest curled a tame effort too close to goalkeeper Danny Taberner.

Vics will have to pass sterner tests but a run to the last 32, where they will be North West Counties League’s solitary representatives if Irlam fail to beat Winterton Rangers in a rearranged tie, can be classified a success already.

Vics |4-3-3 | Taberner (GK), Camozzi, Fitzgerald, Barski, McNally, Craig (Whittle 76), Cooke, Whyte (Clarke 86), Mason (Pilgrim 88), Matthews, Brownhill Subs not used Kenny, Cottam (GK) Goals Barski 13, Fitzgerald 38, Brownhill 85 (penalty)

Silsden | 4-3-3 | Lee (GK), Bentham, Kaine, Illingworth, Moses, Barnes, Lyndon (Everingham 71), Mitchell, Gaughan (Forrest 71), Wademan, Sultan Subs not used Rhodes, Ainscough, Storrie

Referee Carl Rooney

Attendance 174