MATCH REPORT | Runcorn Town 0-1 West
Saturday 14th September 2019, FA Vase second qualifying round
Runcorn Town 0 (Reid sent off 90+3)
West 1 (Holt 81)
Kris Holt’s late goal was enough for West to see off Runcorn Town and seal FA Vase progression on another memorable afternoon of knockout football for Brad Cooke’s side.
Holt’s first goal in West colours was expertly assisted by the Pavilions pitch, careering off a divot in the six yard box and looping over Town keeper Adam Reid, but it was a stroke of luck West fully deserved after an excellent display against the Premier Division powerhouses.
After a walkover against Egerton in the first qualifying round, this visit to Weston Point promised to be a significantly sterner test, particularly at a ground where West had shipped 11 goals in their previous three visits. But West created enough chances to win the game three times over before Holt’s late intervention finally settled matters, while a defence marshalled by Tom Horner and Chris Middleton ensured the door remained closed on a home team that had accounted for Northern Premier League Radcliffe in the FA Cup earlier in the month.
The game had the open feel of a cup tie right from the off, with Town having a couple of sighters of Andrew Jones’ goal while the excellent Dylan Moloney was narrowly off-target at the other end. James Cottee was presented with the clearest opening of the initial stages when Holt’s driving run ended with the ball sitting up inside the area, but the West striker’s aim was awry on this occasion as the ball went wide of the far post.
Momentum continued to swing from end to end with Josh Tinker hitting the bar from a Steer corner before Cottee had the rebound turned over, while Jones spectacularly flew to his right to hold a Town header. Further chances came and went before the interval with Reid saving a header on the line and Jones gathering a shot from outside the area, but the game was destined to be goalless at the break.
Opportunities continued to flow after the restart but West were beginning to dominate territorially – Cottee wasn’t far away with a free kick and Reid had to be at his best to tip over Lee Grimshaw’s header from a Callum Jones corner. But Town remained a danger and spurned a presentable chance themselves when a cross drifted all the way to the far post before being headed wide.
West then had a decent penalty shout waved away when Cottee’s shot looked to have deflected off a hand, and when Middleton hit the post from the resulting corner, it looked as though the game was heading for a further 30 minutes and potentially another Tuesday night at Brookburn Road. The Pavilions surface had other ideas, though, and decided that we would have a winner in normal time.
Holt seized on a pass on the edge of the area and drove towards goal, but his low shot didn’t appear to be causing Reid any great difficulty until it looped off a bobble and drifted into the air, leaving the Town keeper helpless and sending the West supporters into giddy disbelief.
The match finally settled down in the final ten minutes as West saw the game out against a Town side that allowed their frustration to come to the fore, and the home side finished with ten – and an outfield player in goal – when Reid spoke out of turn to the assistant referee when preparing to take a free kick.
The impressive statistics keep coming for this West side – a sixth clean sheet in 11 games, a 12th different scorer this season in the form of Holt and a second win against higher-ranked opposition. Cooke’s side have an opportunity to make another statement by progressing from the first round proper, a hurdle West have failed to clear in four attempts, but for now attentions will turn to Saturday’s huge clash with Stone Old Alleynians at the top of the First Division South.
West: A. Jones, Cook, Cooper, Tinker, Middleton (Eckersley 85), Horner, Grimshaw (B. Woods 90), Holt, Cottee, Moloney, Steer (C. Jones 61). Not used: Dale, Argent-Barnes.
West media player of the match: Dylan Moloney.