A MASKED man brandishing a knife tried to steal cash from a Birkenhead bookmakers but  left empty-handed after being challenged by its brave manageress.

Wirral detectives are appealing for witnesses following the attempted robbery of Betfred, on Conway Street.

The raider – who was carrying a large knife and wearing a scarf over his face – entered the bookmaker's just after 8.30pm on Monday and demanded the 50-year-old manageress hand over money.

Despite being faced with the blade, the woman - believed to be from the Birkenhead area - refused to part with any cash.

The man then tried to reach for a quantity of coins through the counter’s partition but was unsuccessful and fled the scene.

Just one customer was in the shop at the time of the incident but left as the manageress challenged the would-be-robber.

Detectives are keen to speak to the customer about what he witnessed.

The manageress was not injured during the attempted robbery but has been left upset by what happened.

Detective Inspector John Griffith, from Wirral CID, said: “This was an unpleasant situation for the manageress to be confronted by and she did exactly the right thing in terms of activating the security alarm which then alerted the police.

“The offender tried, unsuccessfully, to intimidate her into handing over money but she refused and he was thwarted by the partition that separates customers from the cashiers area.

“I am keen to hear from anyone who witnessed this man either entering or leaving Betfred just after 8.30pm on Monday.

“I am particularly keen to also hear from the man who was in the bookies at the time.

“We believe he is a regular customer and clearly will be able to help us as we try and identify the offender who has put this woman through a very unpleasant ordeal.”

The would-be robber wore black Thinsulate gloves, spoke with a local accent and is described as having "a large nose."

Anyone with information should call Wirral CID on 0151 777 2265 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.