WARRINGTON Rylands took a huge step towards lifting the Northern Premier League West Division title this afternoon.

Rick Smith's first-half volley secured a 1-0 win at 1874 Northwich to put Dave McNabb's side on the brink of promotion.

They will now be crowned champions if they beat Bootle at Gorsey Lane in their final game of the season on Saturday.

Warrington Guardian:

Rick Smith celebrates scoring. Picture by Mark Percy

Watch the post-match thoughts of Blues boss Dave McNabb below

Read Garry Clarke's match report here

WHEN you are one point ahead of your nearest challengers at the top of the table, all you have to do is win – and that is what Warrington Rylands did on Easter Monday.

A nervous-looking Rylands team struggled to get going against spirited opponents, who were content to spoil and disrupt.

In a scrappy affair, the only moment of quality settled the game.

After one of many niggly fouls, Dean Furman delivered a free kick into the 1874 box. The home side only cleared the ball as far as the edge of their area where it was met by on the volley by Rick Smith, who drove the ball through a packed area into the net.

1874 Northwich, who has started the game much the better, could have taken the lead in the second minute when Mike Koral’s cross found Jamie Reed unmarked at the far post.

With the goal at his mercy, he headed wide from close range.

The home side were on top for most of the first half, creating several more opportunities to open the scoring – Matt Fenton, Joe Woolley and Callum Gardner going close.

On the stroke of half time, 1874 goalkeeper Tony Aghayere tipped a Paddy Lacey shot over the bar and did so again, five minutes into the second half.

A few minutes later, Aghayere punched a dangerous Johnny Hunt free kick as far as Callum Dolan, whose shot just cleared the bar.

Dolan went close on two further occasions, flashing a shot across the face of goal and later curling a shot just wide.

Rylands had a penalty turned down by referee Richard Abson when Aghayere clearly clipped Steve Irwin in the box – Irwin was booked for diving instead.

1874 dominated the later stages of the game but could not find a way past a strong, resolute Rylands defence which held firm to claim the win and the three points which maintain their place at the top of the table.