HALLMARK SECURITY LEAGUE
AFC DARWEN 2 RUNCORN TOWN 2
Darwen produced one of their best performances of the season so far and came close to beating the league leaders, who had a record of fourteen wins and one draw in their previous fifteen league matches coming into this game.
The home side went on the attack from the start and in the fifth minute, when a ball into the box was headed out, Kiel Lonsdale was waiting from twenty five yards out to hammer a shot towards goal. Runcorn keeper Daniel Eccles got both hands to the ball, but couldn’t prevent it crossing the line.
Three minutes later, a Runcorn strike from farther out was pushed round the corner by Darwen goal minder Steven James. On the quarter hour Lonsdale tried his luck again from outside the area with a low shot which keeper Eccles saw late but managed to scramble the ball from inside the post, and then retrieve the ball from a Darwen boot. A minute late the Darwen captain headed a free kick just past the post.
The game was over twenty minutes old before Runcorn had a clear chance. A loose ball by a Darwen defender was picked up by Mark Reed who in turn sent Craig Cairns clear. The striker put the ball past the keeper and post.
Another good chance for Darwen came after twenty seven minutes when a dangerous cross by Jordan Scott was volleyed over the bar by Kiel Lonsdale, and into injury time another free kick into the Runcorn box wasn’t cleared and Ryan McKenna looped a shot over the keeper but was unlucky to see the ball hit the crossbar and bounce back into play.
Darwen wet into the break with a deserved lead.
Half Time: AFC Darwen 1 Runcorn Town 0
Darwen again came out fighting after the restart and when Kiel Lonsdale rose to head towards the top of the goal, Runcorn keeper Daniel Eccles did well to get a hand on to push the ball away for a corner. From the corner a melee ensued with Ryan McKenna getting the vital strike to bury the ball in the back of the net.
The visitors had not performed like the team well clear at the top of the table and had created few problems, but they got a break five minutes after the Darwen goal when the referee pointed to the spot for a trip in the box. Paul McManus put the penalty away well.
The game was still evenly balance when just after the hour mark, a Runcorn free kick from the halfway line was put down the right wing, and a cross into the Darwen area was clinically headed in by Craig Cairns to square the match. Minutes later Darwen hit the bar again with a Luke Jarrold effort.
As the visitors started to push upfield, they were caught when Sidi Fofana chased a ball over the halfway line and was in the clear forty yards from goal when a despairing lunge from a Runcorn defender brought them both down. It appeared to be a clear foul with the defender being last man and due a red card, but referee Richard Aspinall waved play on, much to the annoyance of the home crowd.
As the game went into the last quarter, a cross by Ryan McKenna was somehow put over the bar in front of goal by a Runcorn defender, just beating Luke Cassidy to the ball. Seven minutes later Eccles made a great double save to deny Ryan McKenna and keep Runcorn in the game. The visitors had the last chance when a thirty yard free kick was put wide of the post.
Full Time: AFC Darwen 2 Runcorn Town 2
REFEREE: Richard Aspinall
ASSISTANTS: Niall Eaves, Shaun Taylor
GOALS AND TIMES:
Runcorn Town: McManus (53, pen), Cairns (62)
AFC Darwen: Lonsdale (5), McKenna (49)
OPPONENTS CHOICE AS MAN OF THE MATCH:
Runcorn Town: Paul McManus
AFC Darwen: Seydou Bamba
1 Danny Eccles
2 Shaun Dowling
3 Kieran Evans
4 Danny Jarrett
5 Chris Rimmer
6 Paul McManus
7 Joe Holt
8 Tom Crawford
9 Mark Reed
10 Craig Cairns (Capt.)
11 Kevin Exell
12 Aidy Roxburgh
14 Michael Carberry
15 Simon Thelwell
16 Josh McGuire
17 Zach Adekoya (replaced Exell, 46 minutes)
1 Steven James
3 Seydou Bamba
4 Anthony Hodges
5 Adam Douglas
6 Kiel Lonsdale (Capt.)
7 Jordan Scott
8 Jamie Edwards
9 Ryan McKenna
10 Sidi Fofana
11 Luke Cassidy
12 Josh Moorhouse
14 Gary Brown
15 Benjamin Stanton
16 Lee Turner
Photos by Grant Robertson