MIDDLEWICH Town's credentials as title contenders was certainly given a test as Pilkington FC ran out 2-1 winners in Saturday's Cheshire League One clash.

Pilks started the bruising encounter well and opened the scoring on five minutes when some good work by Luke Sephton led to Graham Boylan picking up the ball in the corner, where he turned and delivered a cross that was finished neatly by the late arriving David McGrath.

On 18 minutes Pilks gave Middlewich rare space to shoot from the edge of the box. Unfortunately keeper Rob Cork spilled the ball and Rory Gorton followed up to bring Middlewich level.

Pilks ended the half on the front foot though with both Rory Campbell and Sephton having chances to extend the lead.

They did get back in front four minutes from the break when Sephton stabbed in Boylan’s header after it was cleared off the line.

A couple of half chances presented themselves at the start of the second period for both sides but the match quickly turned into a stop-start affair as the referee failed to control the persistent fouling.

Pilks manager Ste Palfrey was dismissed after he grew increasingly frustrated with the referee’s insistence not to punish the fouls.

As a half of few chances for either side went into the 10th minute of injury time, Middlewich pressed hard for the equaliser but they failed to break Pilks down.

The win moves Pilks to within two points of the top spot.