DESPITE seeing his side throw away a three-goal lead to draw with cross-town neighbours 1874 Northwich, Steve Wilkes says he “couldn’t have asked anything more” from his Northwich Victoria players.

Vics were in a commanding position when Brad Lynch struck barely a minute after half time to add to first-half goals from Brandon Barski and Saul Henderson.

However, they conceded seconds after Lynch’s goal and that sparked a remarkable 1874 comeback, with Scott McGowan hitting a sensational hat-trick.

Wilkes put his side’s failure to see the game out down to fitness, admitting his players were “out on their feet” by full time.

“As you can imagine after not beating your closest rivals from being 3-0 up, the dressing room was a bit down,” he said.

“I couldn’t have asked anything more from the players. You could see they were out on their feet.

“We’re not as fit as 1874 are and I think everyone could see that. That’s why they’ve done so well this season because they are a very fit side.

“I think its twice in the last month now we’ve had to cancel training because of lack of bodies and it shows on nights like this.

“I’m proud of every one of them because they’ve worked their socks off for me.

“If we’d have got even to 50 minutes at 3-0, I think we would have seen it out but we conceded about 20 seconds after we scored.

“Credit to 1874 – they’ve got the best centre forward in the league and he scores three goals like that.

“Mike (Hale, Vics goalkeeper) has put his hand up for the first goal as he thinks he should have saved it, but the other two are both strikes.”

Vics shocked their league-leading visitors by dominating the first half and taking a deserved two-goal lead.

Barski stooped to nod home the rebound after ’74 keeper Tony Aghayere parried Aaron Burns’ free kick into his path before Henderson added another header 10 minutes later as he converted Joe Camozzi’s cross.

When Lynch took advantage of a mistake in the ’74 defence to plunder a third goal just after the interval, the home supporters were in dreamland.

However, with so many points dropped from commanding positions this season, the tale proved an achingly familiar one for the Trickies.

“We had a gameplan – we know they like to get it down and play but we’d watched them a few times and picked out a few weaknesses,” Wilkes said.

“We’ve been in this position far too many times this season, being in front and not seeing the game out.

“It’s down to fitness and that’s something we have to work on.”

Vics are on the road this weekend as they visit Whitchurch Alport on Saturday.