THE more things change, the more they say the same.

1874 Northwich are a different beast under Paul Bowyer and Wayne Goodison, but they have still to find a way to tame their neighbours.

Five of seven meetings have now ended with Linnets as victors.

The timing of the teams’ latest clash perhaps suited more the in-form guests, who have won seven of their past eight Premier Division games.

Meanwhile the hosts, despite hoping not to be, were weary both in body and mind following a midweek FA Cup replay defeat after extra time and a penalty shoot-out.

Two senior players, Danny Meadowcroft and Mark Jones, had succumbed to injuries sustained at Ossett Town too.

None of that mattered to Linnets, who led from the ninth minute after Mark Houghton met Paul Shanley’s cross with a header.

The provider then turned scorer when he was left unmarked at a corner.

1874 had a glimpse of goal when Scott McGowan pinched the ball after Runcorn goalkeeper Matthew Holmes dithered.

He teed up Adam Whitlock, but the youngster’s lobbed attempt cleared the crossbar.

Linnets looked more likely scorers though, and Houghton prompted custodian Greg Hall to save smartly when Shanley again assisted.

The wide man also picked out Stuart Wellstead, but his header struck a teammate.

A third goal arrived before the break, this time when captain Kyle Hamid’s free kick curled directly into the net without an intervention from another player.

Runcorn continued to pile on the misery for their hosts in the second period, and Houghton doubled his personal tally when he converted from close range at a corner.

Wellstead arced a free-kick off-target before 1874 launched a late rally.

Substitute Clevon Beadle’s cross scraped the woodwork, while Jake Parker shot wide before forcing Holmes to save a second attempt shortly afterwards.

Sam Hind, back in the starting line-up after missing the knockout epic last week, drilled in McGowan’s assist with two minutes left.

Skipper Matthew Woolley’s drive, deflected significantly by a back-marker, then closed a gap between the rivals further before time ran out.

1874 | Hall (GK), Connor (Riley 46), Lee Jackson, Pritchard, Lever, Parker, Whitlock (Beadle 46), Matthew Woolley, McGowan, Hind, Kennerley (Woods 70) Subs not used Waite-Jackson, Meadowcroft Goals Hind 88, Matthew Woolley 89 Booked Connor, Kennerley, Paker

Linnets | Holmes (GK), Atherton, Morris, Moore, O’Brien (Lucy 78), Simpson, Wellstead (Jones 78), Hamid, Houghton (Potter 60), Shanley, Hickey Subs not used Bryant, Nolan Goals Houghton 9, 53 Shanley 16, Hamid 43 Booked Simpson

Referee Lewis Smith

Attendance 436

Match report by Garry Clarke