Runcorn Town left it late to grab a point against Cammell Laird Reserves in West Cheshire League One yesterday with substitute Aarron Brown's 87th minute strike giving fortunate Town a share of the spoils.
On a wet and boggy pitch at Pavilions, Lairds started the brighter and deservedly took the lead after just six minutes through Chris Barrow. The forward glanced a header from a corner on the left hand side towards the far post and despite Danny Salt's clearance, the linesman correctly ruled that the ball had crossed the line.
Lairds were dominant with only some last ditch defending at the back by Town keeping the score down. Lairds came close to extending their lead after 24 minutes when Karl Wills cut out a cross from the right with the ball falling nicely to Barrow on the edge of the box. His shot took a slight deflection and struck the underside of the crossbar before Town cleared.
Just before the half hour Lairds again broke with John Pringle attempting to lob Wills from the edge of the box but seeing his shot go just over.
Town struggled and didn’t have a shot of note until they struck back with a fortuitous equaliser in the 32nd minute from Kyle Hamid. His free kick from fully 30-yards out deceived everyone in the box and found its way into the bottom right hand corner.
After the goal the home side was suddenly rampant with a good break finding Jason Carey in the box with his shot was blocked by the keepers legs. Town also had a good opportunity when Joe Davies broke down the left but despite being four on two, the move broke down.
Town's task was made harder in the 41st minute with the dismissal of centre back Greg Byrne. A ball was played through for Barrow to run onto with last man Byrne making a challenge 30-yards out. Despite it looking to spectators that he got some of the ball, the referee ruled that he didn't and sent him from the field of play, much to the disgust of the vocal crowd.
The second half saw Lairds again have much of the play with the heavy pitch and a one man deficit not helping Town. Lairds' second goal came in the 52nd minute from Pringle. A cross from the left was headed downwards on the edge of the box with Pringle storming in to score from close range.
Mark Toohey almost grabbed Town's second a couple of minutes later with a long range shot from 30-yards that went just over, and Wills kept Lairds at bay again in the 64th minute with a good save from a close range shot that rolled along the line before being cleared by Danny Dalton. Dalton made another last ditch challenge on the edge of the box minutes later as Lairds threatened more goals.
Forward Aarron Brown was brought off the bench and defender Matty Jones also pushed up front late on as Town searched for an equaliser. This almost arrived in the 83rd minute with Jones an inch away from getting on the end of Hamid's pass at the back post. The lesson wasn't heeded though by Lairds with a near identical move giving super sub Brown the equaliser four minutes later. Hamid chipped a ball towards the back post with Brown coming in late behind the last defender and volleying past the keeper.
The point moves Town four points clear at the top of the league with West Kirby not playing. However the defending champions have two games in hand on Town now and can go a point clear with two victories.