Cup defeat exposed weaknesses again
CONGLETON TOWN 0
RUNCORN TOWN 3
(League Challenge Cup)Having faced Runcorn Town in the FA Cup back in September, Congleton were yet again paired with high flying Runcorn Town in the League Challenge Cup. With an embarrassing exit from the Mid Cheshire Cup at the hands of Middlewich in midweek, the League Challenge Trophy probably offered Congletonfs only realistic route to landing any silverware this season.
Despite the Middlewich result being all too fresh the Bears started the game brightly and with better shooting from openings at the edge the Runcorn penalty area could have taken an early lead.
However, it was an all too familiar sucker punch which saw the Bears fall behind to a goal after nine minutes. A long ball caught the Congleton defence square and flat footed allowing Runcorn striker, Mark Keddie to latch on to the ball and comfortably slot past Town keeper Craig Vernon to put the visitors in front.
The Bears responded well to this early setback and continued to build through midfield where Kelly, Walsh and Gill largely had the better of exchanges. However, Congleton nearly fell two behind shortly afterwards when Keddie was again clear on goal only for Craig Vernon to superbly smoother the ball from the strikerfs feet.
For the rest of the first half, Congleton had the majority of possession but lacked incision in attack. Several half chances were created but some wayward shooting meant the Runcorn keeper was not asked to make a serious save.
Congleton Townccccc 0
Runcorn Townccccc.. 3
From a Congleton viewpoint, the second half was far more disappointing than the first.
Just six minutes in to the second period, a text book counter attack from Runcorn largely ended the contest. The Bears were on the attack, only to see a long clearance find two Runcorn forwards against two Congleton defenders. Runcorn forward Williams was able to run at the defenders and release a telling pass inside, allowing the leaguefs leading scorer, James McShane to collect and expertly finish to put Runcorn two goals up.
The Bears never give in but could not find any route back in to this game.
Runcorn added a third goal on 80 minutes. A shot from a free kick appeared to be comfortably covered by Town keeper Craig Vernon, but he misjudged the flight of the ball and failed to prevent the ball going in to the net. In the dying minutes of the game, Vernon did make amends for this error with a top class save to deny Runcorn a fourth goal.
A Bears spokesman said: gThe last week has been a bad one for the Bears. After a very poor start to the season, a few weeks ago it seemed the tide had turned for the better, but three defeats in the last week again expose weaknesses in the team.
gWhile the midfield play is better than most opponents, there is little spark in attack while too many simple goals are being leaked in defence. The management team are fully aware of these weaknesses and are hoping to add further options shortly.h
œ Vernon (7): one bad error but two excellent saves.
œ Wedge (7): wholehearted performance.
œ Doherty (6): rarely looks comfortable at left back.
œ Middleton (6): a difficult afternoon against decent opposition strikers.
œ Bennett (7): reasonable game in unfamiliar position.
œ Kelly (8): controlled the midfield.
œ Rigoglioso (7): good performance in first half.
œ Gill (7): decent performance but wayward finishing.
œ Richards (6): rarely got the better of opposition defence.
œ Walsh (8): good performance in midfield.
œ Graham (6): very few things went right.
œ Landregan (6): unable to better resolute defence.
œ Erdmann (6): rarely got the better of opponent.
œ Herd (6): introduced late in the game.
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