STEVE Wilkes described Northwich Victoria’s exit from the Macron Cup as disappointing after they lost to City of Liverpool for the third time this season.

The Purps have won 2-1 on each occasion and their reward for the latest success is a semi-finals place.

“We lacked intensity throughout,” said the Vics boss.

“There were opportunities for us, but we probably didn’t deserve to go through and they were better up front than we were.”

Craig Cairns called Northwich goalkeeper Danny Taberner into action on 11 minutes before firing over from his next attempt after racing onto Kev McEllin’s pass.

The home team went closer still when Jack Hazlehurst’s effort rattled an upright.

Vics responded and Jack Fleming’s cross from the left was inches from a decisive touch by a teammate.

City of Liverpool, favourites to be promoted from the North West Counties League’s top-flight this season, took the lead on 22 minutes when John McGrath’s shot found the bottom corner.

However Fleming curled in a beauty of a free-kick to level after Rob Doran was fouled by Luke Denson.

Doran was then thwarted twice by custodian Ben Ascroft before the break; first, the hosts’ number one smothered the ball at the striker’s feet and then stretched to reach a lofted effort.

Vics breathed a sigh of relief early in the second-half after Cairns’ drive from distance struck the post.

Their respite was brief though and the front man was left unattended to head in a second goal on 59 minutes.

Jamie McDonald sent a rising effort inches too high before the visitors fluffed a glorious chance to equalise for a second time.

Ascroft blocked Jordan Darr’s initial effort with a boot before the young forward blazed wildly off-target from close-range when Harvey Whyte steered the loose ball back into his path.

Northwich went close again when Joe Camozzi, playing against his former club, saw his attempt fly over the bar.

Wilkes added: “It’s a disappointing result.

“They adjusted better to the conditions than we did.”

Purps | Ascroft (GK), Denson, Foy, McEllin, Williams (Dalton 81), Brown, Holt, Hazlehurst, Cairns, McDonald (Peterson 87), McGrath (Owens 83) Subs not used Forbes, Robinson Goals McGrath 22, Cairns 59 Booked Brown, Hazlehurst

Vics | Taberner (GK), Camozzi, Fleming, Craig, Kenny, Barski, Whyte, Cooke (Lewis Brownhill 85), Doran, Joel Brownhill, Darr (Matthews 76) Subs not used Clarke, Fitzgerald, Scott (GK) Goal Fleming 40 Booked Fleming, Kenny

Attendance 474