IF 1874 Northwich needed proof of a distance they still need to travel to challenge North West Counties League’s best teams then Bootle provided it.

The Bucks extended an impressive winning run in the Premier Division to a dozen matches thanks to first-half goals from Steve Jones and Carl Peers, keeping alive their hopes of finishing first.

Curiously, it is the first time they have beaten 1874 on home turf.

During the early exchanges, Bootle goalkeeper Ryan Jones diverted to safety a dangerous cross from Mike Koral while at the other end Carl Peers blazed high.

Koral combined with Sam Hare on 28 minutes to set up Scott McGowan but his attempt was blocked by the home team’s number one.

From the resulting corner, Bootle scored following a swift counter-attack when Kieran Halligan’s cross reached Steve Jones who smashed the ball into the net.

Taylor Kennerley went close from the restart, rifling a shot narrowly wide after cutting inside from the left.

The visitors had another chance on 34 minutes after they were awarded a free-kick.

McGowan’s drive, send under the defensive wall, was parried by Jones into the path of Matthew Woolley who failed to hit the target.

When Matt Russell’s cross picked out Hare, his goal-bound effort struck defender Dan Murphy and deflected for a corner.

Bootle doubled their lead on 40 minutes after possession was turned over in the middle of the pitch following a stray pass from a Northwich player.

Halligan was again a provider, serving Peers who swept home.

Tony Aghayere, 1874’s number one, kept out a shot from Michael Carberry early in the second-half before referee Anthony Ball ruled out a reply from the visitors for offside after Jack Irlam met Kennerley’s cross with a header.

A margin of victory for Bootle might have been wider after they spurned late chances to score with 1874 committed to attack.

Peers rolled the ball past Aghayere and onto a post before inexplicably screwing wide after reaching the rebound before a defender.

He cursed his luck shortly afterwards too when a powerful effort from the edge of the area stuck the crossbar.

Bootle | Ryan Jones (GK), Halligan, Carberry, Murphy, Cartwright, Millington, Clark, Steve Jones (Kori-Butler 65, Hughes 90), Peers, Cox (Foy 58) Subs not used McGovern, Hoy Goals Steve Jones 29, Peers 40 Booked Cartwright

1874 | Aghayere (GK), Russell, Tinning (Hind 46), Pritchard, Mark Jones, Irlam (Gardner 70), Koral, Matthew Woolley, McGowan, Hare, Kennerley Subs not used Meadowcroft, Waite-Jackson, Ormrod

Referee Anthony Ball

Attendance 245

Additional reporting by Garry Clarke