1874 NORTHWICH 0-0 RUNCORN LINNETS NWCFL PREMIER 23RD SEPTEMBER 2014
No one will dispute that a draw was a fair result at the end of an enthralling Cheshire derby between Northwich and Runcorn Linnets.
What did surprise the 563 strong Barton Stadium crowd was the game ending without a goal. Both sides had numueros chances but were constantly thwarted by committed defending and two outstanding goalkeeping performances.
Slow to start 1874 were almost caught napping twice on a rain sodden night in the opening minutes, Matt Conkie was forced to save smartly from Chris Lomax and Ryan Mitchell had to head a cross behind for a corner.
1874 started to get on top of the unbeaten league leaders, Mike Brandon and Matty Ward combined to set Neil Chappell clear, as he entered the penalty area he was brought down from behind by Runcorn’s Mike Duffy. Referee Sinclair pointed to the penalty spot and instead of sending off the offender showed Duffy the first of nine yellow cards he handed out in a hard fought, but not bad tempered, game over which he struggled to assert his authority.
After delaying the taking off the penalty for several minutes, Runcorn were saved by goalkeeper Ritchie Mottram who dived low to his left to pull off a miraculous save to prevent Paul Connor scoring from the penalty spot.
In the aftermath of the missed penalty 1874 forced a series of corners in a short space of time but were unable to find a way past the resolute Runcorn defence. After Kevin Towey sent a shot across the 1874 goal, and later had the ball in the net but only after play had been stopped for offside, Mottram saved well to deny Ward and in the closing minutes of the first half Brandon hit on the turn which flew just over the bar.
Five minutes into the second half Connor raced down the right wing swung in a cross which was met by Brandon whose powerful header was clawed away by another top quality reflex save from Mottram.
Gaining the upper hand the visitors laid siege to the 1874 goal but were unable to find a way through. Desperate defending by green shirted players who threw their bodies in the way to block shots keeping Runcorn at bay, backed up by confident handing by Conkie, who pulled off a string of saves.
As the game became stretched and the action swung from end to end, Conkie launched 1874’s best attacking move if the game. His long clearance found the tireless Brandon who set Connor away down the right. Cutting inside he found Ward unmarked in the Runcorn area, seeming to slip on the wet surface as he shot, Ward’s effort went over the bar. Moments later Chappell surged forward from midfield carrying the ball past the Runcorn defence he screwed his angled drive wide of the target.
Having survived several more Runcorn goal scoring opportunities in the closing minutes of an entertaining game, Matt Beadle had a goal bound shot blocked leaving the game goalless.
1874 – Conkie, Connor, Duckworth, Thomas, Mitchell, Chappell, Jones, Woolley, Brandon (Beadle 82mins), Ward, Tandy. Subs not used Short, Bailey, Woods, Abdullah.
RUNCORN – Mottram, Duffy, Cross, Burke, White, Ellison (Bellew 85mins), Smith (Wade 42mins), Hamid, Towey, Atherton (Haughton 76mins), Lomax. Subs not used – Crowder, Adamson.
ATTENDANCE 563 (new club record) REFEREE L.Sinclair
Sponsors – ROCKSTAR – Man of the Match Matt Conkie