BILLINGE came away from East Cheshire on Saturday pointless as they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at Congleton Town Reserves.

It was harsh on The Storks as they had a first-minute goal ruled out for offside and then seven minutes later referee Justice Abaka-Jacobs turned down a penalty when Jason McShane was pushed over in the box when through on goal.

In a game that was largely fought out in midfield Billinge - despite missing key players though injury and availability - had the largest share of possession, and were the better team for large periods.

They thought they were ahead in the opening moments when Zak Riley's powerful header found the back of the net only for the Billinge captain to have been adjudged to have strayed offside.

The hosts responded well when Olly Griffiths brought the best out of Billinge custodian Kieran Halliday.

Then in the eighth minute McShane got past Anthony Griffith, was bearing down on goal only to be bundled over by the ex-Port Vale defender.

Amazingly the referee waved play-on saying, "There hadn't been enough contact."

On 20 minutes The Storks commenced an excellent period of the game where wide-man John Humphreys began to dominate with some resourceful runs and crosses.

Harvey Lambert went on a superb mazy run before unleashing a decent shot that was well-saved by Rob Cooke.

Riley then got on the end of a Liam Fitzgerald cross; headed the ball into the six-yard box but Humphreys had slightly overrun the ball and despite trying to flick the ball into the net it ran away to safety.

The home side finished the half the stronger as Adam Idowu blocked Ryan Read's goal-bound shot before Halliday denied Jonathan Swale with a brilliant save .

The second-half was a much more cagey affair with less action.

The Storks best chance came in the 51st minute when Humphreys was through on goal but Cooke saved well before Fitzgerald had a long-range effort that went wide.

On 57 minutes Town went ahead.

Lambert brought his man down on the edge of the box and from the resultant free-kick Halliday pulled off a marvellous save tipping Read's effort around the post.

However, from the resultant corner Jack Clews got above Rob Lamont to head home.

It was unfortunate for both The Storks and Lamont, who was excellent thought the 90 minutes leading The Storks front line.

The remaining third of the game saw Billinge pressing without any success and despite Lamont heading just wide and Fitzgerald and McShane having efforts saved Congleton saw the game out to collect the three points.

After the game The Storks manager Wayne Wardle said: " I thought we were very unlucky today.

"We should have had a pen but for some inexplicable reason the ref didn't give it; but that said we had enough chances in the first half to win it.

"There were good performances throughout the side and it is more steps forward after the rebuild."

The man-of-the-match awarded by the day's match sponsor VaughanMedia went to John Humphreys who was excellent throughout the 90 minutes.

The Claret and Blues are back in actin next Saturday when Lostock Gralam visit Barrows Farm for a 2pm kick-off.