PAUL McManus was forced to field a patched up team at Irlam due to late withdrawals then when Liam Turner failed a fitness test during the warm up new assistant manager Danny Jarrett was forced into action, with Reserve keeper Jack Cookson the only substitute available for the manager.

The game started with very few clear chances for either team, the best opportunity fell to Runcorn when the sharpness of Exell partly blocked a clearance from Irlam keeper White the ball deflected wide to Antoine who with the goal at his mercy hit his angled shot over the crossbar.

When Exell was hacked down on the edge of the penalty area Thelwell's free kick into the defensive wall resulted in penalty appeals for handball but the Referee waived play on. Rodgers then played Antoine in but he was crowded out before he get a clear shot at goal the ball deflecting for a corner. From the resulting corner kick Byrne found McManus in space but the managers hurried effort was well over the crossbar.

Irlam were guilty of giving the ball away but when Foulds fired in a shot it was well held by Reid. Irlam had a good spell following the shot and some excellent play by Buckley set up a chance for Boland who hit a fierce shot over the crossbar. Buckley then played Perry through fortunately for Runcorn his shot was inches wide of the far post.

Runcorn responded and Weaver played Byrne in on the right but the cross curled over the crossbar without troubling White. The keeper seemed to be leaving a Thelwell cross that was heading towards the top corner but made a late adjustment to push the ball over the angle of post and crossbar. Byrne laid a perfect ball into the path of Rodgers who blasted his shot just wide of the upright from 25 yards.

In added on time Irlam almost took the lead, from an Irlam free kick the ball was headed clear by Thelwell but fell straight to Boland who volleyed it first time narrowly wide of the target.

Runcorn had an early penalty appeal again turned down by the Referee, Rodgers played Antoine in on the corner of the area, and the youngster appeared to be brought down but again play on by the well positioned Official.

Irlam broke down the right and Perry's driven low cross was behind Buckley and Conner in the penalty area, Wainwright on hand to clear the danger. A clever back heeled ball by Connor presented Perry with an opening but he blasted the ball over the crossbar.

A superb ball from Thelwell up the touchline sent Antoine clear but as he cut in his final shot flew across White but inches wide of the far post. Some excellent play from Exell created himself an opportunity but his goal bound shot was deflected for a corner.

A foul on Conner on the edge of the Runcorn penalty area resulted in a free kick that Boland powered into the defensive wall. A volley from Foulds was just wide of the upright to the relief of Reid. The best chance for Irlam came when Buckley powered in a shot that Reid pushed over the angle for a corner.

When Weaver won a corner for Runcorn Byrne sent the ball to the back post where Rodgers with the goal at his mercy headed powerfully over the crossbar.

Runcorn scored what proved to be the winner in the 81st minute when from a free kick awarded when Weaver was pulled back, Thelwell curled the ball high in the goal mouth where Kevin Exell's glancing header found the corner of the net.

During the remainder of the game no clear chances fell to either team and Runcorn held on for a welcome hard earned three points.