Town still setting the pace with more wins
UNDEFEATED Runcorn Town bagged their 14th victory from 15 games in the Hallmark Security League Premier Division last Saturday with a 3-2 success at Irlam and still remain the team to beat.
Danny Eccles became Town’s fourth goalkeeper in four matches as injuries forced manager Chris Herbert to shuffle his squad once again for this clash.
An early move up the left involving Joe Holt produced a cross that Craig Cairns hit forcing a full length save from Irlam goalkeeper Lee White.
Six minutes were on the watch when Runcorn took the lead. Tom Crawford out wide on the right touchline fed a perfect ball to Shaun Dowling who carried it forward before hitting a low shot into the bottom corner from fully 25 yards.
Irlam responded and Mark McGregor did well to clear a corner under tremendous pressure from Liam Morrison and Steven Mills.
The home team were pressing and equalised in the 11th minute when Macauley Harewood curled a cross into the Runcorn six-yard box behind Chris Rimmer for Joel Amado to side-foot home.
Runcorn responded and when Mark Reed headed the ball onto Cairns, the striker turned his marker and crossed into the area where Crawford was beaten to the loose ball by Ryan Ledson who hacked it clear for a throw-in.
Some good footwork from Morrison on the edge of the penalty area resulted in a shot that Eccles at full length turned for an unproductive corner. It was an excellent save from the goalkeeper.
Soon after, a free-kick from McManus fell to Crawford, in space, in the penalty area but the midfielder volleyed the ball just over the crossbar.
Kevin Exell and Cairns then combined for the former to fire a fierce shot straight at White who held on to the ball.
Irlam had looked the more dangerous and they took the lead in the 30th minute when Jordan Icely took the ball across the Runcorn defensive line unchallenged before hitting a low shot into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
Runcorn came back and a tremendous shot from Holt deflected off Morrison for a corner.
Cairns then put Michael Carberry through on goal but White came quickly off his line to smother the ball at the feet of the Runcorn full-back. ●
In added-on time at the end of the half, Crawford and Holt combined to set up McManus but the midfielder’s shot flew well wide of the target.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the second period, Runcorn created an early chance.
Following some inter-passing between Holt and Cairns, the ball found its way to Crawford who blasted goalwards but his shot was still rising as it cleared the crossbar.
However, 10 minutes into the half, Runcorn were level.
Crawford found McManus on the edge of the area. McManus fired in a shot that bounced awkwardly just in front of White. The keeper got his body between the ball and his goal but Cairns was on hand to pounce before White could respond and knock the ball into the net.
Irlam then forced Runcorn to defend a series of corners as they pressed forward and the visitors did well to stand up and not concede at this point with the defence superbly marshalled by standin centre-back McGregor.
The game’s pivotal goal came in the 69th minute. Carberry played Cairns in on the dead-ball line. The ball looped over White to the unmarked Mark Reed who headed home on the back post.
A long-range effort from Irlam substitute Malachi Slaven flew wide of the target as Irlam pressed forward looking for a late equaliser.
Runcorn, however, defended well and saw out the remainder of the game to bag themselves another maximum haul of points. RUNCORN TOWN ...................................... 1 HANLEY TOWN ......................................... 0 A DRAMATIC last minute penalty coolly converted by Paul McManus ensured Runcorn Town collected the three points at home to Hanley Town last Wednesday evening at Pavilions.
Hanley started the game strongly and Runcorn’s debutant keeper, 16-year-old George Williams was called into early action confidently cutting out a crossed high ball from Michael Conlon. A fierce shot from Jon Sheldon was then tipped onto the angle by the agile keeper.
Runcorn responded and Joe Holt creating an opening for Craig Cairns who blasted the ball high over the crossbar.
Hanley midfielder Andy Nicholls did likewise from the edge of the penalty area before some intricate footwork shown by teammate Theo Stair created an opening that again resulted in a shot flying high over the Runcorn bar.
The game was being played at a tremendous pace with the Runcorn defence doing well to repel the visitors’ attacks.
As the half progressed Runcorn began to threaten. A powerful shot by Mark Reed was deflected for a corner. From the flag-kick, Hanley did well to clear the ball from within a crowded goal area.
Shortly after, Runcorn had a pair of penalty appeals turned down. Cairns first appeared to fouled by Josh Thorpe. The Runcorn striker regained his balance only to be felled by Hanley goalkeeper Dane Jackson as he attempted to block the ball. Referee Carl Rooney, however, saw nothing wrong with the challenges.
Runcorn had an early opportunity at the start of the second period when they were awarded a direct free-kick on the edge of the penalty area. However, Tom Crawford’s dipping shot was fractionally too high.
At the other end, good play from Stair resulted in a shot that flew over the bar.
A short cross from Keiran Evans then found Mark Reed who flicked the ball into space in the penalty area. However, none of his teammates had read the situation and the ball was cleared.
A short back-pass by Danny Jarrett put pressure on Williams. The teenage goalkeeper’s clearance was charged down by Stair. The ball rebounded before rolling narrowly wide of the goal.
Hanley threatened as the match entered its closing stages. A shot from Nicholls took a wicked deflection off Jarrett but Williams adjusted his position to cover the goalbound ball.
With 90 minutes played, Cairns was fouled. Runcorn pushed everyone forward, and as the ball was lofted into the area by Michael Carberry, Thorpe and Sheldon both barged into the back of Chris Rimmer to prevent him attacking the ball and match referee Rooney immediately awarded a penalty.
McManus duly stepped forward to hammer the ball into the net to secure three more valuable points.
Craig Cairns celebrates ( front) after teammate Paul McManus ( behind) netted a late penalty to win the points for Runcorn Town in their clash with Hanley Town at Pavilions last Wednesday night.