WINNINGTON Park were gutsy in a last-gasp narrow defeat at home to second-placed Rochdale.

Park's 18 men gave their all in a bruising encounter before being squeezed out 15-13 in the closing stages at Burrows Hill in Saturday.

The hosts looked all set to reverse the 54-3 Regional Two North West loss at Rochdale on October 15, showing the improvement in the squad over the past few months as they are now competing with sides in the top half of the table.

They led from the ninth minute to the 79th minute but had their pockets pinched at the death when the winning try was scored following a period of Rochdale persistence and multiple phases of possession in the Park 22.

Winnington had an early let-off when Rochdale missed a head-on penalty kick from 22 metres.

Park worked hard for some possession and launched a couple of attacks to get them into the Rochdale 22.

Indiscipline from Rochdale, coming in at the side of the ruck, gave Park the chance to open up the scoreboard through the boot of Benny Elliot and he delivered.

While the hosts set about disrupting Rochdale's attack and starving them of the ball, good phase play came to nothing on a couple of occasions as stunted chances.

Then some strong running by Dan Williams and Ben Cann gained some field position and from five metres out Elliot threw a great miss-pass out wide to Williams who fixed the defender and a sweet pass to Chris Twigg brought the first try of the game,which was converted by Elliot.

Park moved 13-0 ahead with a penalty on 32 minutes following Rochdale being offside.

The visitors had the last say in the half though as they scored an unconverted try in the corner after a neat offload.

On 50 minutes Rochdale were reduced to 14 men with a yellow card after some backchat to the referee but they were unable to cash in and paid the price for a knock-on just inside the visitors' half.

Rochdale produced a well-worked unconverted try to close the gap to 13-10 and from then on seemed to be in the ascendency with field position and possession.

Park stayed strong in defence, including holding up one try-scoring effort over the line, but were finally undone in the dying moments.

Winnington: Chris Twigg, Alex Burrage, Tom Merrick, Will Morrillo, Charlie Hyde, Benny Elliot, Cameron Flanagan, Tom King, Justin Oles, Shaun Underdown, Ben Cann, Matt Treacy, Gary Dykes, Jack England, Dan Williams, James Johnson, Evan Boucher, Dave Cross.