A nervy start from the visitors led to the first chance of the game going Runcorn’s way. An attempted clearance by new keeper Jon-Paul Lewis ricocheted off the opposition striker and almost gifted him a goal.
Borough’s early nerves were settled when they were awarded a free-kick and given the chance to regroup. Bellamy’s set piece was launched over the top and headed straight at Daniel Lever in the Runcorn goal by Ben Boyne.
The home side played some lovely football at times, most notably on the 10 minute mark when their midfield threaded some lovely passes in between the Bacup defence to create their first proper chance, the effort was saved well by Lewis. This was to be the first of a string of good saves from the keeper.
Despite Runcorn having the best of the early chances it was Bacup who had the best opportunity to score in the opening 15 minutes. Boyne being handed the ball for a spot kick which he blazed over the bar. Bacup had a second chance to open the scoring after 23 minutes but were thwarted by an excellent piece of Runcorn goalkeeping.
At the other end Lewis was called into action to save a 40-yard free kick and deal with a threatening Runcorn corner after some wonderful wonderful from Kelvin Trippier. With half an hour gone it was still anybody’s game.
With one debutant making a name for himself in goal, at the other end of the pitch, forward Matthew Barlow was also breaking his Bacup duck. He excellently held up a Lewis goal kick and slid in Bryan down the right hand side. The winger cut inside from the byline and fired an attempt straight at the Runcorn keeper.
The first of Runcorn’s goals game on the stroke of half-time, Stuart Wellstead latching onto a ball through the centre and staying composed to score past the onrushing keeper.
The players trooped into the dressing room at half-time with the score at 1-0. A terrible time to concede but the game was by no means over.
The second half got underway with Bacup showing some real intent. Boyne firing over from just outside the box, before Matty Bryan broke down the right and played a good cross into the 6-yard box. Unfortunately none of the Bacup strikers could get on the end of it.
Paul Shaney had an early chance for the hosts, hitting a shot over the bar after 48 minutes. Aside from that though Borough looked composed and capable of levelling things up.
The tide turned slightly on the hour mark as Bacup were forced to withstand some heavy Runcorn pressure. The home side had a few decent chances but the Bacup keeper dealt with them well and managed to keep the visitors in the tie.
Bryan continued his good work on the flanks with 66 minutes gone, his cross was cut back to Barlow in the box who teed up substitute Jamie Higgins. With the goal at his mercy, Higgins fired high and wide.
Runcorn doubled their lead after 74 minutes, their winger pouncing on a loose ball in the Bacup defence and charging into space to set up Wellstead for his second of the game.
With 10 minutes of the game remaining, Bacup were still trying to force their way back into the tie. Barlow fed in Shane Birtles but the skipper’s shot was saved brilliantly by Lever.
Bacup made a number of changes to their formation in order to try and mount a comeback, however the move didn’t pay off. Runcorn had another decent opportunity after defender Gareth Wager lost the ball charging up the field to attempt to drag Borough back into the tie. The visitors misery was compounded further when Runcorn grabbed their third of the game, slotting home from close range.
Despite the result Bacup didn’t disgrace themselves and on another day would have converted many of their chances. The positives on display were enough for one Runcorn official to admit he was worried about a comeback even when Runcorn were 2-0 up. Another display like that against Atherton LR on Wednesday and it is likely to be a very different result.
“We all know that in football you don’t always get what you deserve and that was the case in this game. We started well and were asking a few questions which eventually got us the break we wanted when debutant Matty Barlow was taken out in the penalty area. However when we failed to hit the target from the spot I thought is this going to be one of those games.
“I counted seven excellent opportunities, some were bad misses, some were the wrong decision on the final ball and some was excellent goalkeeping and credit must go to the Runcorn keeper for that.”
Peters went onto say, “We had a good disciplined shape about us and in the main we played well, however, we conceded right on half time. The manner in which we conceded should not have happened but it did because teams become most vulnerable when they are in possession. We failed to ensure we were prepared if we lost the ball. We surrendered possession in the opposition box, from this the ball went direct. The fact we overloaded going forward meant that one ball killed us because our set up was not right.
“Their second goal was also of our own making, it could be said it was the right ball but to the wrong player. The pass failed to connect as the ball was too far in front of Kelvin’s intended target. This allowed Runcorn in behind us to score.”
Peters added “The three goal scoreline flattered Runcorn. their last goal came late in the game at a time when we were gambling in an effort to get back into the tie”
The manager did admit his team played well, however conceded that you must score goals to win football matches, “We are all obviously disappointed with the result. We played well, we created plenty of good opportunities but the one main ingredient of scoring was missing. On another day they and we will not be up against a keeper that was equal to everything we threw at him. This is football, a performance like this in most other games and we will get the breaks and win the game.”
TEAM: Lewis; Bellamy, Wager, Trippier, Banda; Dell, Birtles (C), O’Connor, Bryan; Barlow, Boyne
SUBS: Gervin (86), Thompson (76), Olayemi, Higgins (54), Hendley, Monteith (GK)