WARRINGTON Rylands jumped to second in the NPL West Division table and closed the gap on leaders Marine.

Blues won 4-2 at Bootle in a game that saw them finish with 10 men after Rick Smith was sent off in the second half.

They were 4-1 up at that point after Joe Bunney, Adam Buxton, Kane Drummond and Callum Dolan had hit the target.

Bootle's goals came from Morgan Homson-Smith and Ben Hodkinson, who also saw a late penalty saved by Rylands skipper Graeme McCall.

Blues are now just two points behind Marine after they were beaten at Leek Town, although the Merseysiders have two games in hand.

Watch Blues assistant manager Fraser Ablett's post-match thoughts here

Check out Garry Clarke's full match report below


DESPITE being reduced to 10 men for the final 20 minutes, Warrington Rylands withstood a late Bootle onslaught to return home from Merseyside with maximum points.

The victory moved Rylands back up to second in the table just two points behind leaders Marine, who lost at Leek on Saturday, although Marine have played two games less.

Conditions were difficult to say the least, with strong winds swirling around Berry Street and driving heavy rain across the pitch.

Both sides were to be commended for their efforts in entertaining the 273 well wrapped up souls who braved the elements.

Many in attendance were still taking their places when Joe Bunney opened the scoring after just 65 seconds – Kane Drummond cut in from the right wing and slid the ball across the goalmouth for Bunney to tap in at the far post.

Warrington Guardian:

It didn’t take long for Bootle to hit back – after a couple of off-target efforts from distance, a ball into Rylands box found Ben Hodkinson unmarked and the division’s top goal scorer made no mistake, firing past Rylands goalkeeper Graeme McCall.

Rylands dominated the remainder of the first half. Warren Gerrard, Rick Smith and Sam Egerton all went close with headers from corners while Bootle goalkeeper Ryan Jones pulled off a string of good saves.

Jones denied Bunney, Drummond, Egerton and Joe Coveney before the break but could not prevent Adam Buxton from restoring Rylands lead in the 29th minute.

Declan Walker delivered a free kick into the Bootle area where an unmarked Buxton powered a diving header beyond Jones.

Warrington Guardian:

Drummond increased Rylands advantage five minutes after the restart – intercepting a wayward Bootle pass on the edge of their area, he fed Andy Scarisbrick. His shot was blocked, but the ball fell to Bunney who found Drummond at the far post where he slotted the ball home.

Bunney was replaced a few minutes later by Callum Dolan and the substitute had an immediate impact on the game.

McCall cleared his lines with a long ball down field, a Bootle defender headed the ball straight to Dolan who, assisted by a following wind, sent the ball from almost the half way line over Jones’ head into the back of the net with his first touch.

Referee Nik Storey showed Smith a red card in the 70th minute for a dangerous challenge whilst going for a 50/50 ball.

Warrington Guardian:

Determined to take advantage of having an extra man, Bootle pushed forward in search of a way back into the game and were handed a lifeline in the 78th minute when Morgan Homson-Smith drilled a free kick through a packed penalty area to halve the deficit.

Bootle were awarded a penalty in the 85th minute but McCall got the better of Hodkinson, diving to his left to save the spot kick.

Warrington Guardian:

McCall also saved well to deny Jack McGowan from point-blank range in the closing minutes as Rylands worked hard to thwart their hosts.

All pictures by John Hopkins