At the Pavilions Ground, Runcorn, Vodkat First Division leaders AFC Blackpool were away at second placed Runcorn Town FC. Each had nine games to play but this morning's league table showed AFC Blackpool with a healthy five point lead. A win today would have been a massive step towards the league title and promotion.
In recent days, AFC Blackpool manager Stuart Parker had deservedly picked up the Vodkat League Division 1 Manager of the Month award after his team had won eight matches out of eight in league and Cup in impressive style. Click here for details.
Below are a few pictures taken from the game. In the end, Runcorn Town FC took all three points in a 2-1 win that was marred by AFC Blackpool right back Dave McEvoy breaking his leg in a perfectly fair 50/50 challenge. The match report can be read at the excellent Vodkat League website by clicking here. In my view it gives a very fair reflection of the match apart from two points. Firstly, in the view of many of the 200+ crowd the first goal should not have stood as AFC skipper Muscroft was clearly obstructed in the middle of the park after knocking it past his opponent before being cynically blocked. Ten seconds and three passes later and it was in the back of the net. Secondly, as AFC Blackpool pushed for an equaliser in the second half they were nearly killed off on a number of occassions and would have been if it wasn't for keeper Andy Speight making half a dozen good saves.
Runcorn Town FC are a good side going forward and they got behind the AFC defenders on numerous occasions. No argument with the result, there was a lot of pressure on Runcorn to get a win from this game and on calm reflection the morning after, they did enough to win. Now AFC Blackpool's lead at the top is down to two points. With eight games to play we're in for a very close finish to the season. AFC Blackpool have two important home matches in the coming week. They'll be well worth watching.
A friendly welcome
About 65 miles from Blackpool, the ground is set in the industrial heartland of Runcorn on the banks of the estuary.
The toss of the coin, young Runcorn mascot (right)
Mark Ashall back after a long injury lay off
A good leap at the lineout
Ben Waddington has an early strike on goal
AFC Blackpool captain Matt Muscroft
Paul Carroll on the ball for AFC Blackpool
Kevan Ford in an aerial battle
On the ale as usual
Clever defending by Ford !
AFC Blackpool right back Dave McEvoy stays down after a 50/50 challenge with an opponent. Concerned team mates look on as the seriousness of the injury became clear.
I have to give credit to the professional response of all concerned. Both clubs' physios handled the injury very well. There was a 35 minute delay as Dave was strapped up. To save moving him, the ambulance drove on to the pitch to colect him before taking him for treatment at Whiston hospital. I'm sure we all wish Dave a full and speedy recovery.
Runcorn controversially take the lead after what looked to be a clear obstruction was waved away by the referee. Out of picture (right) the Runcorn player slotted it past keeper Speight from the angle. The Runcorn fans celebrate. 1-0
AFC's best first half chance. Waddington (centre) stretched to convert the cross with the keeper stranded but he couldn't keep his shot down and it went over the bar.
On the stroke of half time, a cross was headed back over keeper Speight
Before being forced over the line. 2-0
Into the second half and Runcorn are going for a third
AFC go close
On 70 minutes AFC striker Niall Cummins shrugged off his defender, turned and fired it past the Runcorn keeper to set up an exciting finish. 2-1
AFC pushed for an equaliser and nearly got it when Stayte's good run and cross was intercepted. At the other end Runcorn had some great chances to seal it and only good keeping from Speight kept AFC in the game.
It's all over and the gap at the top of the table is down to two points.
Final score : Runcorn Town FC 2 – 1 AFC Blackpool