KNUTSFORD returned to winning ways and that was the most important thing on Saturday.

Their 1-0 derby success against a Middlewich Town side, as needy of the points as Knutsford, led to Reds moving up to ninth.

In truth, both sides huffed and puffed but lacked quality, composure, creativity and pace.

Knutsford deserved to take the spoils, but there was not a great deal in it.

In the end their winning points were sealed by a great strike by Milan Thompson in the first half.

A slow start was produced by both sides, who were anxious not to make mistakes, resulting in plenty of endeavour but little quality.

Few chances were created but both sides worked hard to establish superiority.

Knutsford took the lead on 32 minutes after Mike Cartner made a driving run down the right wing and tried to find Thompson.

But the ball fell to a Middlewich defender who failed to control the ball which then went to Thompson who looked up and fired into the right hand side of the goal from 25 yards.

Generally, George Riley and Scott Beattie were in the thick of the action and Mark Evans pushed forward, with Jake Maunder and Matt Mountney again enjoying a solid partnership in the heart of Knutsford’s defence.

As the half closed, there was a let-off for Knutsford after a melee in the box and the ball fell to a Middlewich forward who hit the side netting.

Middlewich started the second half better than Knutsford though defences were on top.

Hughes had an effort well saved by home keeper Steven Dryden.

Knutsford then came close to doubling their advantage.

Cartner hit a deep cross to the far post for Thompson to volley against the post and out.

Chances continued to come at both ends of the Manchester Road ground.

A Middlewich free kick by Garner went under the wall and Dryden was alert to save well low to his right.

Steven Kirby was brought down in the box but no penalty was awarded to Knutsford.

Middlewich went close as both sides increased their tempo, and Thompson hit a 20 yarder that sailed just over the crossbar.

Spilsbury was replaced by debutant 17-year-old Kyle Phipps who went up front, with Cartner going to left back on 63 minutes.

Cartner made a foul on the edge of the box in a dangerous position but the Middlewich free kick hit the wall.

As conditions got more bleak there was little to choose between the sides.

Mountney made a great forward run of 70 yards and fed Evans who scuffed his shot over the bar.

Thompson hit a fierce drive but it was well saved by goalkeeper Masters.

A tense closing spell ensued with Middlewich pushing forward looking for an equaliser and Knutsford absorbing the pressure well and looking dangerous on the counter.

After good work by Phipps, Evans received the ball free in the box but the ball stuck under his feet and a chance went begging.

Evans went close again but his effort was well saved by Masters.

A cross from Shane Davies on the left found Evans free but his header was weak – on another day he could have had a hat-trick!

Evans found Phipps free but the youngster screwed his shot wide in the last chance of the game.

Knutsford: Dryden, Wilbraham, Spilsbury (Phipps), Maunder, Mountney, Beattie (Butler), Riley, Evans, Cartner, Thompson, Kirby (Davies) Subs not used: Clancy, Wynne

Knutsford hav no fixture this weekend.

Their next game is away to Daten on Saturday, November 30, at 2pm.