West slumped to their fourth defeat in five as they were undone by three first half goals at home to Runcorn Linnets.
West manager named just two changes to the side that had performed so heroically, despite the scoreline, at FC United in mid-week with Saul Henderson and Rob Black taking the places of Carlos Mendes Gomes and Mark Rogers. In his absence Kevin McGrath captained the side for first time against his former club.
West almost struck first on 10 minutes when Henderson latched onto an under-hit back pass finding Nic Evangelinos with a cut back who curled an effort inches round the post from a tight angle. Linnets went ahead on 13 minutes when they countered down the right hand side, the cross took a deflection looping over Dean Williams in the West goal allowing Paul Shanley to scramble home from close range.
West responded with a fine move down the left to find Richmond Botchey in acres of space but his cross just evaded the head of Rob Black unmarked in the penalty area on 21 minutes. Three minutes later Matty Kay saw a free kick cleared straight back to him firing the rebound just wide from 30 yards on the volley.
Linnets doubled their lead on 36 minutes following a quick counter in which Joe Shaw was stamped on in front of the referee. Linnets fired their effort over the bar but the referee adjudged it to be a corner despite Williams neither getting a touch on it and Botchey keeping it in play. The initial corner was cleared but the ball back in was scooped over the defence by the boot of a West player and Mark Houghton reacted quickest to nod it past Williams in the goal.
The 3rd Linnets goal came shortly after as they were seemingly awarded a free kick for their own captain catching the ball. The free kick was played quickly to Stuart Wellstead who drew a free kick at the edge of the area. The initial free kick was cannoned off the underside of the bar with Linnets again the quickest to react as Houghton headed into an empty net from a yard out.
The damage could have been worse almost immediately as a Linnets player threw himself to the floor inside the penalty area and the referee awarded a penalty. However Williams guessed correctly to push away the low spot kick to his right.
It took just nine minutes of the second half for Linnets to extend their lead as a low cross was turned in at the far post by Stuart Wellstead.
West rang the changes with a triple sub as Jonny Poizer, Ben Steer and Georgi Whyment replaced Matty Kay, Rick Gleave and Rob Black.
The changes had the desired effect as Evangelinos latched onto a backwards header from the Linnets fullback but dragged his shot wide. Steer raced through on 80 minutes only to see his cross deflected at the near post and the Linnets goalkeeper pull off an excellent save, his first of the match. With five minutes remaining Whyment came the closest as he cannoned a shot of the corner of the crossbar and post at the near post.
West supporters weren’t to be denied for their excellent support as the home side’s best move of the match saw Henderson released through on goal and finishing superbly into the bottom left hand corner to give West a scant consolation