KNUTSFORD FC head into a tough test in the Cheshire Cheshire FA Amateur Cup on Saturday on the back of progress to the semi-finals in another competition.

Reds will host holders Mersey Royal at Manchester Road, kick-off 2pm, hot on the heels of a 3-2 win at Middlewich Reserves in Mid Cheshire District Cup Group Stage Two.

Knutsford, with only 11 players available and manager Nick Ward selecting himself at centre half, made hard work of securing the win against a tenacious and spirited Middlewich side who fought for every ball but were reduced to 10 men after only four minutes.

The dismissal was the consequence of a visiting defender pulling down Louie Burgess just outside the box.

Nathan Bibby swept the free kick into the far corner to give Reds the early advantage.

However, Middlewich got their noses in front by half-time with two quick strikes.

Before then, Ward went close from a corner, Jack Naylor shot wide and on another occasion produced a poor finish after being put through on goal.

Knutsford goalkeeper Dominic Smith was then booked for a foul outside of his box and from the free-kick the ball went straight into the corner of the net for 1-1 after 42 minutes.

Soon after, a cross from the right was not defended well and a tap in meant Middlewich turned around in buoyant mood, having gained rewards for their endeavour and getting on top of the contest despite being a man short.

As the second half got going Knutsford continued to be wasteful in possession through poor passing and taking wrong options.

They had a chance to pull level when Naylor had clear sight of goal but fired straight at the Middlewich keeper.

Reds did get their equaliser in the 52nd minute when James Spencer swivelled and shot from inside the box.

It was not all good news for Spencer though as he then missed a sitter from one yard, firing over the bar when it appeared easier to score.

Knutsford pressing and created several good chances but Middlewich’s players continued to work hard to keep them out.

As the sky darkened a big mistake in the Middlewich defence let in Tom Bowey to score the winner on 86 minutes.

MW did not give up and put Reds under pressure late on but the hosts held on to seal a game that would have been enjoyable for neutrals despite being poor in quality.

Knutsford: Smith Morgan, Cavanagh, Ward, Brotherton, Law, Bowey, Bibby (Daverin), Naylor, Burgess, Spencer