NORTHWICH Victoria produced a morale-lifting performance to achieve their first league win of the year.

Steve Pickup resigned as manager during the week after the worst home result of the season – 4-1 against fellow strugglers Stone Old Alleynians - but the team picked by caretaker bosses Matt Barnes and Chris Broad got the job done on Saturday against Atherstone Town.

The Trickies, who had centre half Roman Allen harshly sent off with 27 minutes remaining, had to dig deep to hold off the visitors to Barton Stadium and seal a 3-2 result which hands Greens their first win in the Midland League Premier Division since November.

They remain third from bottom, as the sides immediately above and below them - Tuesday's opponents Wolverhampton Casuals and Tividale - also won.

Vics held 2-0 and 3-1 leads thanks to two goals by Sam Unwin plus the opener by Max Chimenes, while goalkeeper Adam Reid saved a penalty at the end of the first half, but Atherstone kept snapping at their heels.

Both sides had their chances before a wonderful half-volley from striker Chimenes broke the deadlock in the 36th minute.

With half-time beckoning midfielder Unwin tapped the ball home after number 10 frontman Anton Smith had driven into the box and laid off a perfect pass.

But there was still time for some drama at the end of the first period.

Most felt it was a harsh call that Clarke was punished for allegedly bringing down an Atherstone attacker with a penalty being awarded.

Justice was served as far as some were concerned when Reid dived low to his left to claw out the spot kick and maintain Vics’ 2-0 advantage for the turnaround.

Atherstone did eventually pull a goal back though in the 61st minute.

While Unwin was at one end left on the turf from a foul that wasn’t given, Town counter attacked and scored at the other from a rebound after the initial strike hit the crossbar.

But you can’t keep a good man down and Unwin, who had been limping since the foul, curled an effort home from a brilliant corner routine to restore Vics’ two-goal lead in the 65th minute.

Incidents kept coming though and three minutes later Allen was shown a red card despite winning the ball in a tackle.

Chimenes switched to centre-half and Vics were determined to hold on.

Atherstone managed to halve the deficit with five minutes remaining but that was as close as they got.