KNUTSFORD were grateful to groundsman Brian Deeley for preparing a pitch to play on as they recorded back-to-back wins in the Cheshire League’s top tier.

Reds ran out victors against Rylands, the last team to win a Division One match at Manchester Road more than a year ago, to protect their lead at the summit.

They did so thanks to Deeley’s dedication.

“Brian spent more than 30 hours during the week making sure the pitch was ready,” said chairman Jimmy Evans.

“He had to fight the weather at every turn, mind.”

The teams traded a chance apiece in the opening exchanges, Dean Warburton going close for Knutsford while custodian Mark Higgs kept his sheet clean at the other end with a smart save.

Paul Schofield’s men edged ahead soon afterwards when Richard Smart’s powerful header fell for Liam Myers, who turned and shot in the same movement to make it 1-0.

Rylands did not relent, putting pressure on Reds’ defence, although Warburton and then Ebby Rezayan had chances to double the hosts’ lead at the other end.

Knutsford added another goal seconds after the restart, Myers serving Jamie Pickford to score in style from distance.

Their Warrington-based visitors halved the deficit within five minutes, Scott Bakkor making the most of Steve Jenyons’ slip to net a deserved reply.

They almost added a second only for Higgs to save superbly once more.

A two-goals cushion was restored when Myers’ cross was handled by a defender, presenting Warburton with the chance to score from the penalty spot.

Substitute Sean Lynch then took centre stage for the home team, served more than once by Warburton only to finish waywardly when well-placed to score.

A surprise home defeat for Whaley Bridge against Eagle Sports, for whom Cheshire League regulars Adam Coleman and Ged McAllister were on target, leaves Reds four points clear with a game in hand.

Crewe FC, beaten 1-0 on their own pitch by Knutsford in August, are due next at Manchester Road this Saturday, kick off 2pm.

Knutsford Higgs (GK), Lewis (Lynch 75), Edmondson, Jenyons, Smart, Michael Schofield (Mannion 77), Rezayan, Pickford, Warburton, Cartner, Myers (Shakoor 77).