RUNCORN TOWN 3-6 1874 NORTHWICH       MACRON CUP FINAL                 24TH JULY 2021

It’s not every season that the first game is a cup final, especially one from two seasons previously, but that was the assignment for the teams at the Pavilions as 1874 Northwich captain Matt Woolley finally got his hands back on the Macron Cup after the green and blacks defeated Runcorn Town 6-3 in a much delayed final. 

The final was the culmination of a 22 month long journey starting in October 2019, as 1874 made history by becoming the first team to retain the impressive trophy which they first won in May 2019 when they defeated City of Liverpool at Altrincham.

Most cup finals are close tense cagey affairs decided by a single goal, not this one.  Maybe it was because of the timing, being played before the league season had started, there was a more low key feel to the game, but it did not disappoint on the action or excitement fronts.

After a burst of Runcorn pressure on the 1874 goal in the opening minutes, 1874 opened the scoring in the 7th minute. As the home side struggled to clear the ball from their penalty area Jake Parker cut the ball back to Scott McGowan who celebrated his return to the 1874 colours by applying the finishing touch.

Runcorn hit back immediately. From the restart the ball was played in behind the 1874 defence.  Craig Cairns raced onto the ball and dispatched it in to the bottom corner of the net.

Play between two evenly matched team switched from end to end with both sides having chances to take the lead, 1874’s best effort fell to Lucas Weir who drew a fine save from Runcorn goalkeeper Adam Reid.

Reid was unable to prevent Callum Gardner from resorting 1874’s lead in the 21st minute. Receiving the ball on the right hand side of the penalty area, he cut inside and delivered a curling left foot shot into the far corner of the net.

Going close to equalizing several times before half time, Runcorn were level five minutes after the interval. Ben Greenop reacted quickest to prod the ball home after 1874 goal keeper Tony Aghayere had parried a fierce Tom Ruffer shot.

After this wake up call, 1874 started to control the game with Reid contorting his body to tip a deflected McGowan shot over the bar. From the resultant corner he did well to keep out Matt Woolley’s header, but could not prevent McGowan netting the rebound.

Both Mike Koral and Gardner went close with efforts which were just off target before Runcorn were reduced to ten men in the 72nd minute. Booked for a foul on Taylor Kennerley in the first half, Runcorn substitute Shaun Weaver was shown a second yellow card by referee David Critchlow for fouling the Northwich captain.

1874 Northwich ruthlessly exploited their man advantage two minutes later. Attacking down the right Parker drove a cross into the penalty area, aware of McGowan lurking behind him Runcorn defender John Shaw could only deflect the ball past Reid.

With five minutes left on the clock, substitute Sam Hare led a stunning counterattack after a corner was cleared from 1874’s area. Running almost the full length of the pitch he slipped the ball into the path of fellow bench warmer Joe Woolley, who needed no second invitation to angle a drive into the far corner.

There was still more drama to come as Runcorn hit back with a goal which bore resemblance to elements of both their previous goals. From the restart the ball was played forward to an unmarked Kevin Exell whose shot was parried into the path of Cairns by Aghayere, the Runcorn man tapped the rebound home.

The final word was left to McGowan who completed his hat-trick with a well taken goal chipping the ball over Reid’s head.

Moments later the final whistle blew and the celebrations began as 1874 Northwich bade farewell to the North West Counties League in style

1874- Aghayere, Koral, L Jackson (Cain), Mitchell, Jones, Parker (J Woolley), Gardner (Hare). MWooley, McGowan, Weir, Kennerley. Subs not used Ormrod, R Jackson.

RUNCORN – Reid, Jones, Turner, Shaw, James, Ruffer, Holt (Weaver), Cox (Jennings), Greenop (Holsgrove), Cairns, Exell. Subs not used Antoine, Dursley.

GOALS               1874 McGowan 7, 55, 90 Gardner 21, J Woolley 86, Own Goal 77

                           RUNCORN Cairns 8, 57 Greenop 49

Referee D Critchlow                                             Attendance 472

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