GARY Martindale believes that Winsford United deserve to receive acclaim after ending Witton Albion’s defence of the Mid-Cheshire District FA Senior Cup on Tuesday night.

Blues recovered from 2-0 down at Wincham Park to draw level, thanks to goals from Rhys Saunders and Dave Short, before prevailing 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out.

“I’d give credit to Winsford,” said Albion’s assistant manager when asked how his side had let slip a lead against their lower-ranked neighbours.

“The way they battled to get back into the game – against what we felt was a strong side – is great for them.”

Substitute Rob Hopley had stooped low to head in Will Booth’s corner before the interval and his volley, parried by Winsford goalkeeper Michael Langley, was deflected into the net by unfortunate defender Liam Delaney to double the holders’ lead.

However they could not protect it and struggled to adjust after Lee Duckworth, Blues’ manager, sent Clayton McDonald from defence to the point of their attack.

“They went route one and it affected us,” admitted Martindale.

“It gave them a massive lift to get back into the game at 2-1 and then we didn’t smell the danger for the equaliser which isn’t like us.

“We didn’t react, and while they had a stroke of luck with a deflection, they can argue fairly that they earned it.”

He told the Guardian a side with eight changes from one that took to the field at Gainsborough Trinity last weekend included players that needed match-practice.

Front man Delial Brewster, absent with an ankle injury since Witton’s FA Cup clash with Solihull Moors on October 20, was one.

Defenders Michael Wilson and James Yates featured too while Billy Smart returned after suspension.

Martindale added: “That’s the biggest positive we can take from the game; these lads needed minutes in their legs and it that will be valuable for us moving forward.”