IF Witton Albion felt inconvenienced by the timing of this tie, shortly before arguably their biggest game of the season, they did not show it.

Carl Macauley selected a strong side, including five starters from the previous game, and they did an efficient job to reach the next stage of the Cheshire FA Senior Cup.

In short, it was everything the manager will have wanted.

Runcorn rarely threatened, their attack blunted by the absence of leading goal-scorer Craig Cairns.

Given the night off, he watched on as a substitute.

Witton did not take it easy though, and almost led inside five minutes when Steven Tames’ angled attempt narrowly missed the target.

The visitors dominated possession on a bumpy pitch, and regularly found a route behind their hosts’ defence.

However their next decision, whether a shot or a cross, was seldom a productive one.

They were sounded a warning too when Mark Reed dragged an effort wide at the other end.

Another followed when skipper Simon Thelwell’s header deflected for a corner off goalkeeper Ryan Neild after they both leapt to meet a cross.

Albion switched later to a three-man defence – consisting of Anthony Gardner, a repositioned Paul Williams and substitute Nick Ryan following the interval withdrawal of Anthony Brown and Michael Wilson – to create a numerical advantage further up the field.

And it worked a treat.

Another replacement, Tom Owens, headed against the underside of the crossbar from a Williams cross.

The midfielder then sent a chipped attempt against the woodwork.

Witton scored a goal their superiority deserved on 68 minutes when James Foley swept in with an instep after Micah Evans – making his first start since the season’s opening day – had made forward progress on the visitors’ left.

Owens was again denied, this time by a superb smothering save by Town custodian Andy Metcalf, after he wriggled away from a defender inside the home team’s penalty area.

Meanwhile Joe Holt blazed high when he had a glimpse of goal from a rare Runcorn raid before Tames settled the outcome with a composed finish after latching onto a lofted pass.

Runcorn | 4-4-2 | Metcalf (GK), Dowling, Jarrett, McGregor (Rimmer 46), Carberry (Maguire 46), Holt, McManus (Exell 80), Craig Jones, Keiran Evans, Thelwell, Reed Subs not used Roxburgh, Cairns

Witton | 4-4-2 | Neild (GK), Gardner, Brown (Ryan 46), Wilson (Owens 46), Eves, Micah Evans, Cesaire, Williams, Foley, Will Jones (Hopley 62), Tames Subs not used McKenna, Hare (GK) Goals Foley 68, Tames 88

Referee Daniel Mitchell

Attendance 97