THREE welcome points lifted Kendal Town back up into the UniBond League First Division play-off zone, but they were hard-earned against Woodley Sports side who looked a good deal better than their bottom half of the table position might have suggested, writes Dennis Aris On an icy, slippery pitch and with a midfield ravaged by injury, Town struggled to produce the fluid dominance they have shown recently. But after falling behind to a sloppy goal, they produced two quality efforts of their own to save the day.

In the fifth minute Lee Ashcroft appeared to be brought down by Woodley keeper Liam Higginbottom, but referee Colin Bainbridge waved away Town's penalty appeals. While they were still protesting, fast-breaking Mario-Sergio Daniel raced down the left and squared the ball and found Carl Healy arriving unmarked in the box to firmly head Woodley into the lead.

The visitors came close to a second goal midway through the half when Healy's lob from 45 yards left Town keeper James Salisbury stranded, but fortunately took some extra-bounce on the near-frozen turf to narrowly go over the bar.

Woodley went on to control much of the first half, but in the 43rd minute Town at last produced one of their trademark attacks, Ashcroft spreading Salisbury's long kick to right-winger Peter Smith, whose perfectly-flighted cross from the bye-line was met by a David Foster to head an equaliser just inside the far post.

Mr Bainbridge has a habit of making controversial decisions on his appearances at Parkside and this visit was no exception.

Just before the interval Foster and the Woodley keeper went to ground as they contested a through ball. Higginbottom then stretched out and gathered the ball just outside his area with Ashcroft rapidly closing in.

The home supporters bayed for a red card as Ashcroft had been odds-on favourite to collect and score if the keeper had not handled. Instead he escaped with a yellow and the free-kick came to nothing.

The incident spurred Town on, for they controlled the second half, took the lead in the 51st minute and defended it tenaciously.

Ged Smith, impressive on the left-wing, delivered a looping cross into the box. Foster flicked it on with his head for Peter Smith, who raced in behind the left back to drive the ball home.

Half-a-dozen yellow cards were brandished, including a late one for Ashcroft's dissent, and Woodley's copious use of the offside trap deflated the excitement in the game.

When Town did break through poor finishing squandered four or five chances which might have made it a more comfortable victory.

How they rated: Salisbury 7; Rigby 7, Taylor 8, Whittal-Williams 7, Sparrow 7, McKenna 6, Osborne 5; G. Smith 7, Foster 7, Ashcroft 7, P. Smith 8.