1874 NORTHWICH had their usual arm-wrestle with Barnton but this time came out on top.

They have been frequently frustrated and occasionally given a fright by the Villagers in previous meetings.

Substitute Sam Hind settled the latest one, the trajectory of his strike with 10 minutes left making it unstoppable.

It put the visitors ahead for the third time in an always vibrant, sometimes tetchy, derby that ended on a controversial note in added time when the hosts were denied a penalty following Ben Woods’ clumsy challenge on Jason McShane.

Steve Lloyd’s side can reasonably plead they deserved a share of the spoils as a reward for their second-half display, which included two smartly-taken equalisers and a shedload of spirit.

Instead they will make a 17th attempt to win a first North West Counties League fixture of the campaign when they visit Hanley on Tuesday.

1874 were below their best in the opening period, but still posted a greater attacking threat.

Taylor Kennerley’s goal-bound attempt was blocked by George Mannion, while Jack Pritchard headed high from the resulting corner.

At the other end, McShane hooked over after Northwich defenders partially-cleared a set-piece.

The game’s first goal was as scruffy as the half-hour that preceded it with a Barnton defender diverting Kennerley’s free-kick – conceded needlessly by Mannion – into his own net.

The home team responded, and Chris Smith spun sharply only to miss-hit his shot after Jack Irlam clipped a pass his way.

The Barnton captain prompted custodian Greg Hall to save his next attempt, a low drive.

1874 were forced to reshuffle when Jack Lever limped off with a knee injury, switching Lee Jackson to right-back after sending on Ben Woods.

Their backline, already shorn of Paul Connor through suspension while Danny Meadowcroft is not yet ready to return after an injury, felt vulnerable as a result.

The teams traded chances straight after the interval; first, Hall reacted instinctively to parry Irlam’s close-range header before Scott McGowan’s glancing contact called Cooke into action.

Barnton drew level on 51 minutes when Chris Bandell was courageous to reach first Smith’s nudge forward, lobbing a neat finish over Hall before the net-minder clattered into him.

He was booked in the aftermath.

After play had restarted, Cooke produced a miraculous save to tip over McGowan’s header from Woods’ centre.

The former Congleton man was not to be denied though, and jabbed a loose ball over the line on the hour after Ryan Mitchell’s header at a corner dropped kindly into his path.

Northwich Guardian:

Scott McGowan, wearing nine, watches on as his shot flies high into the net to put 1874 Northwich 2-1 up at Barnton on Wednesday. Picture: M Darlington Photography

However 1874 were pegged back again with a quarter-hour left.

Smith celebrated his 17th goal of the campaign after steering in Malone’s driven cross at the end of a move initiated by the wide man pinching possession from Woods.

However Barnton were left bruised – and beaten – when Hind, teed up by fellow replacement Kyle Riley, scored a decisive goal with a shot that swerved through a crowd of players and out of Cooke’s reach.

“It’s hard to know what to say,” rued Lloyd afterwards.

“Those lads gave everything again, and we’ve just come up short. It makes me really feel for them.”

Barnton | 4-4-2 | Cooke (GK), Stafford, Coleman, Mannion, Crofts, Malone, Hamid, Jason McShane, Irlam (Moores **), Bandell (Jack Woolley 83), Smith Subs not used Houghton, Kiernan (GK) Goals Bandell 51, Smith 76 Booked Mannion (foul)

1874 | 4-3-3 | Hall (GK), Lever (Woods 40), Mitchell, Pritchard, Lee Jackson, Parker (Hind 68), Matthew Woolley, Jones, Whitlock, McGowan, Kennerley (Riley 72) Subs not used Haughton, Waite-Jackson Goals Kennerley 28, McGowan 59, Hind 80 Booked Kennerley, Lee Jackson, Hall (all fouls)

Attendance 214