Runcorn Town 5 AFC Darwen 0

First published in Sport

A much changed Runcorn Town team took the pitch for this League Challenge Cup fixture against inform 1st division outfit AFC Darwen.

Manager Simon Burton picked himself to lead the line following a lot of supportive pressure.

Allan Glover and Danny Salt were also included on the bench as Runcorn Town continue to suffer from a mid season injury crisis.

Town started well attacking from the kick off, they got their reward when a cross from Edwards in the 2nd min evaded Burton finding Chris Lester unmarked beyond the far post to dispatch a shot across goal into the roof of the net.

Simon Burton was fully involved causing major problems to the Darwen defence, he should have increased the lead in the 5th min but made amends in the 7th sweeping the ball low into the bottom corner from Lester's inch perfect pass.

A poor clearance by Darwen keeper Holden fell to Burton who immediately clipped the ball over the stranded keeper but agonisingly it was just wide of the open goal.

Darwen were making in roads into the game and Sperritt did well to clear the ball off the toe off Lee as he prepared to shoot following a good ball from Lonsdale. Lee then set up an opening for Langford whose powerful shot was well dealt with by Wills.

Town got a 3rd goal in the 22min. when a cross from Lester was headed home by Simon Burton. The Town manager fully justifying his self selection with his all round display and finishing qualities.

The combination of Lester and Burton was having a tremendous influence on the match, from a Keddie free kick Burton cleverly back healed the ball into the path of Lester but the ball ram through for a goal kick.

Toone then launched an accurate free kick up to Burton who headed the ball down back into the path of Kinsey who shot wide of the target.

On half time Burton pulled up with a leg injury, Darwen immediately put the ball out of play so the centre forward could receive attention.

During the delay an unusual style BMI plane flew low over the ground, a quick data check revealed it was from Cardiff Airport chartered to Swansea FC flying them into Speke for Sunday's Premier league game with Liverpool at Anfield.

Gareth Grant replaced the injured Burton who was applauded as he limped from the field.

 Darwen started the 2nd half well forcing Town to defend but Gibson and Spearritt looked comfortable dealing with the visitors early pressure.

A corner from Steele was mis handled by Wills who then quickly recovered to snatch the ball to safety as Lee and Banks looked to take advantage.

Turner had a good opening but failed to test the Town keeper, his shot flying wide of the target.

Some great interplay between Grant and Edwards created an opening for Sean Breen who picked his spot to increase Town's lead in the 53rd min.

Darwen never gave up and a good shot from the busy Steele just cleared the crossbar, a free kick by the same player was to far out to trouble Wills, the ball harmlessly going for a goal kick.

Breen then set up a chance for Edwards but his powerful shot flew high over the crossbar.

Town introduced new signing's Jack Irlam and Robbie Black on the hour mark for Lester and Breen, both youngsters immediately becoming involved and impressing on their debuts.

A foul on Edwards produced a free kick for Town, Toone's effort was well dealt with by Holden.

Darwen fullback Wood was having a good game and in a venture up field saw his goal bound shot deflected for a corner. From the resulting kick Wills did well to fist the ball away under pressure from 3 Darwen players.

Town completed the scoring in the 76th min, some clever play by Black creating an opening for Irlam who laid the ball unselfishly into the path of Gareth Grant who swept the ball home to complete the scoring.

A long clearance by Holden deceived Spearritt and fell invitingly to Taylor who hit a first time shot straight at Wills.

A pass from Black through the Darwen back line was seized on by Toone who beat the oncoming keeper to the ball then fired his shot against the upright, the rebound fell to Keddie who blasted the ball inches wide of the open goal.

Darwen sub Gaul created an opportunity for himself with a superb run that saw him beat 3 Town defenders but then wildly lash the ball well wide of the goal.

A vicious volley by Keddie struck Dalton then in added on time Grant rounded the keeper but was denied a goal by the out stretched boot of Telford who had recovered well to save a certain goal.

Runcorn Town: 1 Wills, 2 Dalton [c], 3 Kinsey, 4 Toone, 5 Gibson, 6 Spearritt, 7 Lester, 8 Keddie, 9 Burton, 10 Breen, 11 Edwards.

Subs: 12 Grant, 14 Black, 15 Irlam.

Not Used: 16 Salt, 17 Glover.

Goals: Lester 2 min, Burton 7 & 22 mins, Breen 53 min, Grant 76 min.

AFC Darwen: 1 Holden, 2 Telford, 3 Wood, 4 Douglas, 5 Parker, 6 Lonsdale, 7 Banks, 8 Lee Turner, 9 Lee, 10 Steele, 11 Langford.

Subs: 12 Gaul, 14 Karl Turner, 15 Taylor.

Not Used: 16 Brown.

Referee: Barry Lamb [Manchester], Assistants: Slawomir Osiadalz [Manchester], Peter Maxson [Manchester].

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