THIS is only a second defeat for 1874 Northwich in the North West Counties League since the middle of September.

It stings no less though given they were denied an equaliser before the break when referee Anthony Ball appeared to blow his whistle to signal the end of the first-half after Scott McGowan had sent a shot towards the target.

The ball found the net, but a goal wasn’t given.

That would have soothed the discomfort of a disappointing display during the opening period.

Litherland frustrated their guests, and took the lead on 25 minutes following a counter-attack led by Declan Gregson on the left and he supplied a cross that Paul Foy flicked past Northwich goalkeeper James Coates.

A second goal ought to have followed shortly afterwards following Colin Quirk’s forward bust.

Coates parried his initial shot, but was relieved to see Lennon Whewell blaze over the rebound as he scrambled to stand up again.

1874 management duo Paul Bowyer and Wayne Goodison sent on Michael Koral, in place of Callum Gardner, for the second-half.

He made an impact, although the first attempt on goal was from Whewell who fired narrowly off-target following a mix-up in the away side’s defence.

Koral’s effort was cleared off the line by Stephen King at the other end, while Lucas Weir’s drive from distance was pushed away for a corner by custodian Ben Morrow.

An equaliser arrived on 52 minutes when Mark Jones met a set-piece with a header that crossed the line despite the best efforts of Foy who tried an acrobatic clearance.

Fortunately, an eagle-eyed linesman awarded a goal.

1874, who slipped back into the table’s bottom-half for Christmas, fell behind again though on 70 minutes after former Barnton favourite Quirk had turned over possession in midfield.

He released Whewell and he slotted a smart finish past Coates from the edge of the penalty area.

The visitors dominated the closing stages without a reward.

Koral’s attempt clipped a post before the former Winsford United attacker drilled another effort across the face of goal ahead of teammates arriving late in a bid to apply a finishing touch.

Litherland | Morrow (GK), Foy, Jake Connor (Stewart 66), Dobson, King, Crist, Scott (Cato 29), Hamilton, Whewell, Quirk, Gregson Subs not used Shield, Colebourn, Murphy Goals Foy 25, Whewell 70 Booked Foy

1874 | Coates (GK), Paul Connor, Russell, Pritchard, Jones, Weir, Gardner (Koral 46), Matthew Woolley (Irlam 77), McGowan, Hare, Kennerley Subs not used Ormrod, Waite-Jackson, Stevenson (GK) Goal Jones 52 Booked Paul Connor

Referee Anthony Ball

Attendance 148

Additional reporting by Garry Clarke