FOR a while, Cuddington looked likely to cause an upset.

They deservedly took the lead after dominating the early exchanges and adjusted better to testing conditions.

But Middlewich Town, who play two levels higher in the Cheshire League and are seeking to end a seven-year wait to win the Mid-Cheshire District FA Saturday Challenge Cup again, found their feet eventually.

Dean Burgess converted a penalty, after Harry Short’s darting run was cut short by Jack Glimond, in the moments after half-time settled the Witches.

And they did not look back.

There will have been concern though that Cuddy, who won a semi-final against Town before finishing as runners-up in 2016, started the game so brightly.

Nathan Harwood’s free-kick was deflected past a post by a defensive wall before the visitors’ captain fired high when well-placed at the resulting corner.

Middlewich responded, and Short’s contact with his weaker right foot from Jamie Petrie’s cross scooped the ball skywards.

It dropped kindly, and Short’s next attempt was smuggled off the line by a defender via an upright.

Cuddy edged in front on 23 minutes when Tom Duncalf finished clinically after Josh Mainwaring, impressive while standing in for absent leading-scorer Joe Lanceley, served him with an inviting centre.

Town toiled to make an impression in response and only ran up a head of steam for the first time late in the half.

Their claims that Petrie’s corner had arced over the line before a defender’s intervention convinced most at Seddon Street apart from the match officials.

A clearance sent the ball back to the Witches’ skipper and his driven cross was redirected by a Cuddy boot against his own crossbar with goalkeeper Tom Evans able only to watch.

It gave Middlewich the spark they craved and Burgess was calm to score from the spot on 47 minutes after Short was sent sprawling.

The home team made it 2-1 on 62 minutes when Chris Lunn steered in Jack Barnett’s cut-back from the by-line after the full-back had reacted swiftly to a defender nudging the ball inadvertently into his path.

Cuddy, unable to find again the intensity that had set them apart from their opponents earlier, threatened only when another Harwood set-piece flashed narrowly wide.

Short, growing in influence as the away side tired, slipped a pass into substitute James Smith’s path and his angled shot rapped the inside of a post.

Instead Burgess doubled his tally for the afternoon, and the season, when he forced the ball over the line from close-range to put his side out of reach.

Witches | 4-3-3 | Masters (GK), Parkinson (Twite 87), Griffin (Rowland 89), Burgess, Barnett, Basford (Smith 77), Weedall, Short, Petrie (Priestley 84), Lomas, Lunn (Conway 89) Subs not used none Goals Burgess 47 (penalty), 81 Lunn 62 

Cuddy | 4-3-3 | Evans (GK), Barlow (Payne 64), Glimond (Tomkinson), Nathan Harwood, Whitney, Hassall, Bell (Kenny 86), Hancock, Linaker (Curbishley 70), Mainwaring, Duncalf Subs not used none Goal Duncalf 23