THE result was more important than the means for Witton.

After losing three of their previous four matches and failing to win a Northern Premier League fixture at Wincham Park in more than two months, it’s easy to explain why.

Theirs was a narrow victory, achieved thanks to Matlock Town full-back Lee Beevers diverting the ball into his own net, but that makes it no less precious.

A gap to the Premier Division’s drop zone is wider now, seven points to be precise, and there remains the insurance policy of games in hand on teams below them in the table.

That, coupled with the resilience and fortitude in defence of Carl Macauley’s side, is reason for optimism.

There is relief too that a positive performance earned a reward after Witton played the role of nearly men in defeats to Warrington, Farsley Celtic and South Shields.

With a strong wind behind them they attacked uncertain opponents – beaten now in three successive matches without scoring and unable to shut out an opponent in 11 attempts – from the outset.

However it was Albion’s goalkeeper, Greg Hall, who made a first save when he dived to his left to smother debutant Greg Tempest’s shot.

Rob Hopley had the hosts’ first glimpse of goal at the other end but Adam Yates, Matlock’s captain, blocked brilliantly.

Will Jones lobbed high after shooting on the turn from Hall’s long ball forward and then steered a header too close to custodian Ross Durrant from Danny McKenna’s cross.

Witton, aggressive and on the front foot, had reason to curse their luck on 41 minutes when Hopley’s header from another McKenna centre clattered the crossbar.

They ought to have led by the break, and didn’t.

However fortune favoured them when they took the lead, Beevers sticking out a foot in an attempt to intercept a pass and succeeding only in directing it where Durrant had no chance of reaching it.

It stirred the visitors, and Josh Wardle threw himself in the path of Michael Hollingsworth’s drive after Craig Westcarr had scooped a cross to the back post.

However Matlock didn’t use the conditions as effectively as their hosts, who continued to pose a threat.

Durrant, edgy throughout, fumbled McKenna’s free-kick around an upright.

The visitors’ best chance followed, and Westcarr’s header from a set-piece was cleared spectacularly off the line by River Humphreys who adjusted his feet in nimble fashion.

It was a reminder to Albion that their advantage was slender, but they protected it in determined fashion for the game’s remainder to notch a 10th clean-sheet of the campaign.

Whether they ought to be looking up the table to those in front or casting a glance over their shoulder at others in pursuit is a debate that can wait.

For this week at least, their supporters can sing ‘1-0 to the Albion’ once again.

Witton | 4-4-2 | Greg Hall (GK), Gardner, Humphreys, Wardle, Devine, McKenna, Booth, Owens, Foley, Hopley, Jones Subs not used Cobley, Cesaire, Yates Goal Beevers 51 (own goal)

Matlock | 4-4-2 | Durrant (GK), Beevers, Yates, Ashton Hall (Wiley 46), Beatson, Hinsley, Hollingsworth (Williams 68), Tempest, King, Westcarr (Jackson 85), Marshall Subs not used Fleming, Pierrepont (GK) Booked Marshall (foul)

Referee Daniel Bruce

Attendance 305