Runcorn Town 1-1 Northwich Victoria

THESE rivals traded goals and then could not be separated.

Runcorn Town took the lead inside two minutes when Paul McManus, appointed as manager the previous day, sent a lobbed effort over goalkeeper Danny Taberner after intercepting Brandon Barski’s clearance.

Vics needed only five minutes to reply when Simon Thelwell, the home team‘s captain, directed a corner into his own goal from close-range.

And Steve Wilkes’ side almost doubled their lead when Barski’s header prompted custodian Adam Reid to save instinctively.

Runcorn responded, and Danny Byrnes’ cross was cleared by Kieran Kenny only as far as Thelwell whose powerful strike was kept out by Taberner.

Vics went close early in the second-half when Dom Craig delivered a centre that John Connolly flicked narrowly over.

Runcorn rallied, and Ste Wainwright’s cross was laid off by Kevin Exell for Byrnes who fired a shot straight at Taberner.

Connolly combined with Joe Camozzi and Joel Brownhill to send Craig charging into the hosts’ penalty area but his finish lacked conviction and Reid saved.

McManus hit a fierce shot from distance narrowly wide of an upright before fine control from Exell resulted in a volley from Shaun Weaver that cleared the crossbar.

Vics best chance followed on 80 minutes when Connolly’s deft header found Craig, but his volley was off-target.

Runcorn’s final sight of goal came when Carl Rodgers found Exell on the left and he cut inside before shooting too close to Taberner.

Runcorn | Reid (GK), Wainwright, Turner, Thelwell, James, Rodgers, Weaver, McManus, Antoine (France 46), Byrnes (Jarrett 79), Exell Subs not used none Goal McManus 2 Booked Exell

Vics | Taberner (GK), Camozzi, Fleming, Craig, Kenny, Barski, Whyte (Winder 72), Cooke, Ennis (Mason 63), Brownhill, Connolly (Matthews 76) Subs not used Clarke, Fitzgerald Goal Thelwell 8 (own goal) Booked Brownhill

Referee Ben Atkinson

Attendance 134