TABLE TOPPERS TOPPLED
BY GARRY CLARKE
1874 NORTHWICH 3-2 RUNCORN TOWN HSL PREMIER
A Scott McGowan goal five minutes from time settled a five goal thriller at St Luke’s Barton Stadium in favour of 1874 Northwich.
League leaders Runcorn Town arrived on the back of a nine game winning run, while 1874 were unbeaten in their previous five league games, and two fully committed sides showed why they are competing at the top end of the table, keeping the 278 strong crowd entertained throughout an enthralling encounter.
Runcorn Town started the game quicker with the HSL’s top scorer Craig Cairns prominent. He played in Joe Holt whose shot was blocked by the feet of Greg Hall in the 5th minute, while a few minutes later as he was in the process of shooting he was disposed by a perfectly timed Ryan Mitchell tackle.
1874 started to find their feet forcing a series of corners which Runcorn did well to defend. McGowan was denied at point blank range by a fine save from Runcorn keeper Louis Mackin, while Hall had to be alert at the other end to keep out a Carl Rodgers header.
1874 broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute. Paul McManus brought down McGowan in the penalty area as he ran onto a Sam Hare pass. Tom Bailey drove the spot kick into the back of the net with such power that Mackin despite getting his hand to the ball could not stop it. Incidentally this was 1874’s 300th league goal.
Cairns sprung 1874’s offside trap in the 30th minute, he tried to lob Hall from the edge of the area, back tracking Hall acrobatically tipped the ball over the bar.
Seven minutes later Bailey turned provider, threading the ball through the centre of the Runcorn defence he found McGowan who slotted the ball between Mackin’s legs to double 1874’s advantage.
A feisty game with strong challenges flying in from both sides boiled over on the stroke of half time as players from both sides clashed in melee, which resulted in two 1874 players and a Runcorn player being booked.
Cairns halved 1874’s lead five minutes into the second half. Taking advantage of Mark Jones slipping on the wet surface, Cairns raced into the penalty area where he appeared to slip over himself as he turned inside Lee Jones. Referee Michael Barlow pointed to the penalty spot. Cairns converted the penalty driving the ball straight down the centre of the goal.
After a scrappy opening to the second half, 1874 started to re assert themselves, but after subjecting the Runcorn goal to a period of sustained pressure 1874 were pegged back with Cairns claiming his second goal of the game and 37th of the season. Taking too much time to clear the ball, 1874 custodian Hall saw his clearance intercepted by Holt who fed Cairns who stuck the ball in the net for the equaliser in the 65th minute.
Stung into action, 1874 went close to regaining the lead with Sam Hind having a shot deflected wide, Mackin saved well to keep out a Bailey shot and Tyler Edwards shot just wide.
Cairns ended a good run down the left by pulling the ball back to McManus whose powerful shot was stopped by Hall, who reacted quickly to save at point blank range to prevent Cairns from netting the rebound.
As the rain began to fall heavier, a long ball was played over the top of the Runcorn defence; McGowan outpaced the turning defenders to reach the ball before the advancing Mackin and lifted the ball over the keeper’s head to restore 1874’s lead.
Matt Woodhead went close to salvaging a point for the visitors in the last minute, intercepting a Hall clearance he fired a shot from distance inches wide of the target as 5th placed 1874 held on to claim three valuable points as they closed the gap on the leaders to 5 points and maintained their 100% record against Runcorn Town.
1874 – Hall, L Jones, Russell (Jack Woolley 77), Mitchell, M Jones, Hare, Hind, Waldron, Bailey, McGowan, Edwards. Subs not used Jackson, Whitlock, Tulloch.
RUNCORN TOWN – Mackin, Woodward, Heath, James, Jarrett (Nugent 89), Ridgers, Holt, McManus, Thelwall, Cairns, Exell. Subs not used Pickering, McGregor, Maguire.
GOALS – 1874 Bailey 23p, McGowan 37,85 RUNCORN Cairns 50p, 65
REFEREE Michael Barlow ATTENDANCE 278
MAN OF THE MATCH SELECTED BY SPONSOR ALAN ANDREWS = SCOTT MCGOWAN
|Sat 10 Dec 2016||3:00 pm||Hallmark Security League Premier||2016/17|
|St Lukes Barton Stadium|
|The Barton Stadium, Wharton Rd, Winsford CW7 3AE, UK|
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals|
|#||Player||Yellow Cards||Red Cards||Goals|
|3||Matt Russell 14||1 (41')||0||0|
|9||Tom Bailey||0||0||1 (23')|
|10||Scott McGowan||1 (56')||0||2 (37', 85')|
|14||Jack Woolley 3||0||0||0|