All eyes on Jennings in Town’s mixed week
RUNCORN TOWN ...................................... 3 CONGLETON TOWN ................................. 1
RUNCORN TOWN were in the national sporting glare last Wednesday when they played host to Congleton Town in the Hallmark Security League Premier Division.
Journalists from national newspapers, Football League club scouts and Sky Sports were all at the Viridor Community Stadium to see former Tranmere Rovers and Bayern Munich player Dale Jennings back on the field in his quest to rediscover the form that took him all the way to the Bundesliga giants.
Much credit for Jennings’s return to the North West must go to Runcorn manager Chris Herbert who put in a mountain of work to make it happen.
The game started at a blistering pace with Congleton looking dangerous moving forward with ex-Runcorn player Emini Adegbenro prominent in their attacks.
It took a superb save from Runcorn keeper Adam Reid who tipped a curling shot over the angle of crossbar and upright to ensure the scoreline remained blank in the early exchanges.
The visitors had started well and Runcorn were forced to work hard to counter the attacks. Adegbenro hammered a 20-yard shot over the crossbar following a good centre from the left touchline.
Runcorn slowly but surely began to force the pace. A foul on Jennings brought a direct free-kick on the edge of the penalty area. However, Craig Lindfield’s shot was still rising as it cleared the Congleton crossbar.
Runcorn kept pressing, and a centre from Matty Waters was met with a fierce volley by Harry Brazel that also went over the bar.
Shortly after, a cross from Liam Turner was nodded goalwards by Ryan Cox but the header took a deflection and out for a corner. From the flag-kick, a Marcus James header was cleared off the goalline with Congleton goalkeeper Craig Ellison beaten.
Congleton always looked dangerous with their rapid breaks upfield and Reid made a couple of excellent saves to keep his team level.
Just after the half-hour, Runcorn took the lead. From a Lindfield cross, Brazel sent a bullet header into the Congleton net.
Lindfield then tried a speculative volley that flew inches over the crossbar as Runcorn looked to double their advantage before the interval.
However, just the one goal was the difference at the break.
Runcorn, however, did go two goals to the good early in the second period. A Paul McManus cross from the left touchline was headed home by striker Cox, the ball taking a deflection on its way into the net.
Within a few minutes Cox had the ball in the net again but his effort was disallowed for offside.
Congleton capitalised on this fortune and pulled a goal back just before the hour. The ball was pinged around the Runcorn goalmouth before Josh Ryder was on hand to strike it home.
The game was now open with both sides going for goals.
But it was Runcorn who increased their lead in the 70th minute. Simon ● Thelwell headed a Turner throw-in on to Lindfield who headed the ball into the roof of the net from outside the six-yard box.
Thelwell was causing problems to the visitors’ defence and his cross to Lindfield brought a miscued shot that flew straight to goalkeeper Ellison.
Congleton began to force the pace and Runcorn did well to keep them at bay. Reid brought off a brave save at the feet of a Congleton striker who had broken clear of the Runcorn defence.
With time almost up, Stuart McDonald brought a good save from Ellison who pushed his shot at point-blank range out for an unproductive corner. SILSDEN ...................................................... 0 RUNCORN TOWN ...................................... 3 RUNCORN TOWN built on their midweek triumph over Congleton with three goals and three points at Silsden last Saturday afternoon.
The Yorkshire outfit started the game well and it took Runcorn a little time to settle. Once they did, they were awarded a free-kick on the right touchline. Matty Waters curled the ball into the goalmouth where Josh Kaine headed it safely out of play for a corner. From the inswinging flag-kick from Craig Lindfield, the ball was headed off the goalline by Silsden full-back Craig Bentham.
At the other end, a long-range shot from Kyle Hancock was firmly held low down to his right by Town goalkeeper Adam Reid.
Runcorn looked to press, and a quick one-two between Dale Jenning and Paul McManus put the striker through on goal. However, his shot deflected off Silsden keeper Samuel Lee for a corner, the No.1 doing well to dash off his line so quickly to block the shot.
An injury to Liam Turner forced Runcorn manager Chris Herbert into an early substitution, Steve Wainwright coming on at right-back.
The visitors continued to look threatening and when Harry Brazel found Shaun Weaver in space, he fired goalwards, Lee saving low down to his right.
Soon after, a free-kick to Runcorn resulted in a superb ball from John Shaw that presented Jennings with a free shot that Lee did really well to hold at the foot of his upright.
Some great play from Weaver then opened up the Silsden defence. Jennings took full advantage to slot the ball home. However, a late flag from the assistant ruled the Runcorn man offside. The offender, though, was by the touchline and not involved in the play leading up to the goal which should have been allowed to stand.
Still Runcorn pressed forward and Weaver was once again involved setting up Brazel but the midfielder’s powerful shot flew inches wide of the target.
Having been under the proverbial cosh for much of the opening period, Silsden finished the half strongly.
A free kick-out on the touchline from Hancock was met with a powerful Aidan Kirby header that brought a superb diving save from Reid.
From the resulting corner, Hancock struck a fierce shot that brought another good save from Reid who was unsighted in the crowded goalmouth.
However, the scoreline remained blank at the break.
Reid was brought into early action in the second half doing well to hold a low shot from Arley Barnes.
Runcorn finally made the breakthrough in the 52nd minute. Cox created the goal with a delicate lob over the defence for Jennings to fire the ball goalwards. Lee was quickly off his line and did well to block the first shot but Jennings, despite being grounded, reacted first to prod the loose ball home.
Not long after, Runcorn were awarded an indirect free-kick inside the Silsden penalty area when keeper Lee picked up a back pass, just 10 yards from goal.
The Silsden defensive wall lined up on the goalline. Lindfield passed the ball to Jennings who had his shot cleared off the line by Reece Kendall who was well positioned on the far upright.
Silsden always looked dangerous when they went forward, their pace causing problems to the Runcorn defence. Hancock brought an excellent save out of Reid with a fierce volley that the keeper held.
Runcorn full-back Waters then created an opening for Weaver that resulted in a curled shot that was narrowly wide of the far post.
Simon Thelwell replaced Jennings in the 64th minute and was involved in Runcorn’s second goal just two minutes later. Weaver clipped the ball in to the middle where Thelwell headed on to Cox who chipped it over the keeper. The ball came back off the crossbar for the striker following up to chest into the unguarded net.
Silsden went close to reducing the arrears when a free-kick from Hancock found Kendall in space but his header flew inches wide of the upright.
McManus then did well to head the ball off his own goalline as Silsden continued to press forward.
Marcus James and John Shaw stood firm during this pressure forming a formidable defence in front of the impressive Reid.
Eight minutes from time, Runcorn confirmed their victory. When a shot from Lindfield was blocked, Shaw following up had his strike deflected for a corner. From the resulting flag-kick, the ball fell into the path of Brazel at the back post, the Runcorn playmaker blasting it into the roof of the Silsden net.
Late on, Brazel found Cox in space the Runcorn striker bringing an excellent save out of Lee who held the ball with Thelwell waiting for it should the keeper spill it out of his grasp.
Silsden’s centre-back Danny Illingworth was sent off in stoppage time for a silly foul off the ball spotted by the assistant referee. The defender had hardly left the pitch when the referee blew his whistle to signal full time. BOOTLE ....................................................... 4 RUNCORN TOWN ...................................... 2 A PAIR of own goals played their part as Runcorn Town fell to a 4-2 defeat at Bootle on Tuesday evening.
Town raced into a two-goal lead at the TDP Solicitors Stadium.
Ryan Cox struck the first on 13 minutes, finding the Bucks’ net after a shot from Shaun Weaver was blocked.
And just three minutes later. Cox grabbed his second, the striker netting after being played in by Simon Thelwell.
Seemingly in control, Runcorn were rocked by an own goal on the half-hour followed by an effort from Antony Hickey and one from Dominic Marie giving the hosts a 3-2 lead at the interval.
Town looked for a leveller in the second half but the game went out of reach on 54 minutes when a long intended backpass from John Shaw went past keeper Adam Reid and into the net.
Dale Jennings in action for Runcorn Town against Congleton Town last Wednesday evening.