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Joe Shaw strikes with time running out to send Witton Albion through in Cheshire FA Senior Cup
WITTON delivered the win their volunteers – a dozen souls shifted snow from the pitch all day – deserved, although they left it late to do so.
Joe Shaw’s shot seven minutes from time had power and accuracy to beat goalkeeper Karl Wills, leaving Runcorn to rue not making their pressure pay.
Simon Burton’s men, who hope to continue on a road to Wembley in the FA Vase this weekend, adapted best to a surface still part covered in snow at midday.
Their start was swift, Gareth Grant going close with a lofted effort before turning in Paul Shanley’s assist only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.
Witton custodian Matt Cooper was alert to thwart attempts by Shanley and then Sam Bailey, from close range, before the home team had posed an attacking threat.
Josh Hancock’s drive defeated Wills after he had danced around full back Steve Latham, but a defender diverted his goal-bound shot to safety.
Another Runcorn foot blocked Oliver James’ follow-up too.
Danny Andrews was next to shoot at goal, after Anthony Sheehan sent the ball in his direction, but Wills turned the ball around an upright.
Those were episodes though, not proof of Witton assuming control.
Runcorn reverted to that role soon after the interval, Shanley’s clever chip matched by Cooper’s similarly swift readjustment to tip the shot over the bar.
Witton improved, if only slightly, after that to avoid any defensive danger although the hosts rarely looked like penetrating Town’s backline at the other end.
When they did, Shaw’s finish was assured.
Served by substitute Jamie Harrison after he had dribbled directly at the heart of the visitors’ defence, the ex-Trafford man made safe his side’s passage to the last eight with a low shot.
It was fitting, if only for Witton’s band of helpers.
Men of the match: Each and every one of the volunteers – including Witton boss Brian Pritchard – that spent their free time helping to clear the playing surface of snow. Credit too for referee John Dowd, who acknowledged that by giving them chance to succeed.
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Horne (Ben Harrison 80), Glover, Wood, Andrews, Sheehan, James, Hancock (Jamie Harrison 73), Shaw, Moseley. Subs not used Plant (GK), Clayton, Bettley. Goal Shaw 83.
Runcorn (4-4-2) Wills (GK), Latham, Dalton, Spearitt, Kinsey, Malone (Wellstead 66), Scott Burton, Eyo (McShane 73), Bailey (Egerton 72), Grant, Shanley. Subs not used Dooling, Salt.
Referee John Dowd (Ellesmere Port)