With forty minutes played no-one could have predicted the final score-line as Town dominated the opening exchanges but once again poor play in the final third and a lack of finishing power was to be their undoing.

Early pressure from the visitors saw Chris Lomax on the left and Phil Williams on the right in the ascendency but on each occasion the final ball failed to test the Norton defence. Michael Sykes-Wright went close as his strike from distance went narrowly over the bar. Town’s only scare in the opening quarter came when Brown nudged Mawdsley under a high ball and when play was allowed to proceed the Norton striker lofted the ball over the bar.

Lomax and Williams both went close with the latter having his strike from the edge of the box held well by Brandon. The home stopper was called into action again, parrying a powerful shot from Sykes-Wright before reclaiming the rebound. At the other end a trademark Norton long ball found Brown whose fine touch beat his marker before his shot was turned around the post by Novak. Town spurned two more decent chances as Edwards fired over from 12 yards after good work by Lomax and Fitzjohn hit wide when in a good position.

The deadlock was broken on 40 minutes when Norton were to receive a gift from the usually reliable ‘keeper Lee Novak as he spilled a regulation cross and Talbot was on hand to tap home. Less than a minute later Town were caught napping and another long ball saw Brown break clear and slot past Novak. The referee had to be replaced due to injury and the senior assistant took over in the middle with a Norton volunteer taking over on the line. The first real test for the officials came deep into added on time as Novak was harshly adjudged to have brought down Brown who looked to be a long way offside when he went clear. Nevertheless the spot kick was converted by Fogg and this left Town was a mountain to climb.

Ten minutes after the restart Town reduced the arrears when a Sykes-Wright corner saw Judge head home. The comeback appeared to be short lived as Mawdsley was dismissed for a pull back and the resultant free kick from the edge of the box was curled home by Smith. Novak pulled off some fine saves to keep the score-line respectable as Norton used their man advantage well.

Town scored next as Norton found another corner difficult to defend and Lomax hit the loose ball home from close range. The depleted Town ranks could not muster any further goals and Norton netted their fifth of the contest in added on time courtesy of Talbot’s deflected effort.

Saturday 19th January sees Town entertain Glossop NE, kick off 3pm and they are back at home on Tuesday 22nd, kick off 7.45pm when Bootle are the visitors to Edge Green Street.