WINNINGTON Park head into Saturday’s home clash with table toppers Birkenhead Park on the back of losing their first game of 2024 at bottom side Kirkby Lonsdale.

Park, who had also lost their home game against the Cumbrians on Saturday, were disappointing against a side reduced to 14 men from the sixth minute.

They trailed 17-0 after around 30 minutes but two tries late in the first half got them back into the contest and they were in the hunt for the win at the three-quarters stage, with only being 20-18 behind.

Unfortunately for Park, on 65 minutes a yellow card shown to Joe Hickey set them back and gave Kirkby the opportunity to extend their lead with a penalty.

With only 10 minutes left it became a bit scrappy with both sides making errors at crucial times and giving away opportunities.

KL had the last opportunity in the dying minutes of the game with a penalty for offside at the ruck which was converted to close out the game.

Park put the hosts under a fair amount of pressure early doors but the amount of errors in their game let Kirkby off the hook.

Kirkby were able to do some pressing of their own and made it pay on 14 minutes when they touched down from a quick pick-up at the ruck and added the conversion.

The pattern continued and Kirkby’s offload game was troubling Park, leading to a second improved try for a 14-0 lead that was extended by a penalty kick.

This was a turning point in the first half and from the restart Park worked hard in attack with the forwards making real ground on every play.

Charlie Hyde took a penalty quickly and the ball was recycled through the hands of the backs for Chris Twigg to score in the corner.

Park continued to fight their way back into the game and were stretching KL across the field with quick hands and good ball retention which led to a second try from Nathan Taylor.

Errors crept back into Park’s game early in the second half and KL nudged three points further ahead with a penalty.

From the restart Park looked a bit more in control, earned a penalty, took the scrum from which Dan Williams picked up the ball and went to the short side where a neat pass allowed Hyde to score in the corner.

Park put some good phases of play together and from a penalty for a high tackle Benny Elliot converted for 20-18.

It was soon after that the numbers were levelled through Hickey’s sin-binning and Kirkby went on seal only their third win of the season.

Park: Chris Twigg, James Weeks, Cameron Flanagan, Charlie Hyde, Nathan Taylor, Benny Elliot, Harley Aston, Tom King, Jake Cornwell, Evan Retief, Joe Hickey, Jarred Lange, Gary Dykes, Matt Treacy, Dan Williams, Bruce McGrogan, Frank Gibbons, Jack England.