IN what was their final game before the Cheshire FA Amateur Cup Final, Knutsford FC ensured they went into it in winning form.

Daniel Ardern was Reds’ hero as they edged out neighbours Styal at Manchester Road on Tuesday evening, netting the game’s only goal just after half time.

It means they go into their clash with Cheshire Football League Premier Division leaders Poynton at Cheadle Town FC on Friday on a run of nine wins from their past 10 matches.

The first half was a tight and even affair, with Graeme Brotherton and Charlie Rodick having Knutsford’s best chances while goalkeeper Dominic Smith had to be alert to keep the visitors out at the other end.

Manager Nick Ward introduced Brandon Blades, Greg Mathers and Matt Mountney for the second half, and they proved influential in turning the game Knutsford’s way.

It was Blades who set up the opener as he made a great run down the left before his cross to the far post found Ardern, who made no mistake.

Mountney then shot just wide from another Blades run and cross before Rodick fired wide when through on goal as Knutsford enjoyed their most dominant spell of the game.

At the other end, however, Styal were still in the game and a superb block from Steve Jenyons was required to preserve the home side’s lead.

Things got tighter and more tense as full time neared, but Knutsford defended well to secure the three points.