THIS contest was over before it had chance to start.

1874 Northwich, already five goals better off than Congleton Town after the first leg, scored twice more inside the opening 10 minutes.

They kept out the Bears at the other end too and celebrated an emphatic 7-0 success on aggregate that sets a date with North West Counties League Premier Division rivals City of Liverpool in next month’s Macron Cup final.

Congleton had the first attempt on target, and Northwich goalkeeper Tony Aghayere reacted smartly to stop Emini Adegbenro’s effort.

However any doubts in the home team’s minds disappeared in the third minute when Callum Gardner met Jack Irlam’s cross with a perfectly-timed volley that flew into the net.

Another goal followed shortly afterwards when Michael Koral directed a loose ball over the line after custodian Craig Ellison had stopped another Gardner effort but could not hold on to it.

The opening period ended with 1874 in control and Koral had an effort blocked before Gardner sent a diving header just too high.

Congleton threatened at the start of the second-half when Aghayere stretched fully to divert Dean Warburton’s strike from distance to safety.

There was a pause when referee Richard Holmes sustained a calf injury and assistant Matthew Clarke took his place after a volunteer from the crowd agreed to replace him as linesman.

Phil Jones, who lives in Winsford, is a qualified official.

There was little goalmouth action after the restart, and 1874 ensured they kept another clean-sheet.

1874 | Aghayere (GK), Connor (Hind 70), Russell, Pritchard, Meadowcroft, Jones, Gardner, Irlam (Ormrod 15), Koral, Hare, Kennerley (Phipps 75) Subs not used Matthew Woolley, McGowan Goals Gardner 3, Koral 9

Congleton | Ellison (GK), Stephens (Jamieson 46), Speed (Donnolly 77), McLellan, Morris, Griffith, Hasler-Cregg (Hunter 82), Warburton, Foster, Main, Adegbenro Sub not used Peters, Pritchard Booked Main, Speed

Referee Richard Holmes

Attendance 258

Match report by Garry Clarke