Runcorn Town 3 Silsden 0
Following their 3-0 defeat at table-topping Ramsbottom in midweek, the Cobbydalers had to travel to second-placed Runcorn Town on Saturday – another in-form side as both the Rams and Runcorn had won their previous six games.
The Cobbydalers were without skipper James Nettleton, who was on paternity leave. Ben Lamb took his place and John Douglas, injured in midweek, passed a late fitness test to strengthen midfield.
It was Silsden’s first visit to the Pavilions but it wasn’t a happy one.
Runcorn almost opened the scoring in the first minute through Warren Bellow but Danny Husband cleared the danger.
However, Town’s opener came after only five minutes. Left back Jake McEneany allowed Paul Shanley to get behind him and he cut in from the by-line.
Shankey cut past Lamb and fired past McEneaney from close range. Keeper James Mann then managed to flick a header over the bar for a corner as Silsden continued to struggle on a dry, uneven surface. Douglas was caught out by the high and erratic bounce and James McShane went close.
Mann then tipped Gareth Grant’s deflected shot wide as Lamb and Husband showed too much respect to their opponents.
Silsden had two good chances late in the half. Steve Palfrey, running up the left, cut in along the by-line and fizzed in a low cross.
Tim Hird, who had done well to get into the box, got a toe on the cross but Karl Wills managed to get down low to push the ball for a corner.
A deep cross from Michael Gar-rod fell to Palfrey, but the striker couldn’t quite keep the volley low enough to test Wills.
Silsden then conceded the kind of goal which drives the coaching staff and supporters to despair.
Bellow won a rather fortuitous free-kick on the right and swung the ball over with his left foot.
The Silsden defenders were as motionless as the Gormley statues on Crosby beach. The ball reached Stephen O’Brien, who, in the pro-cess of stumbling, nudged it home.
Palfrey’s late effort, although wide, at least gave the Cobbydalers some hope that they might get something out of the game in the second half.
But, following another Bellow cross, Arley Barnes cleared a header off the Silsden goal-line in the opening minute.
Douglas nearly scored a fluke at the other end from a clearance on halfway but Jason Carey, who replaced Bellow on 74 minutes, made it 3-0 with his first touch.
Silsden finally created chances, Joe Gaughan shooting narrowly wide twice and Garrod’s header being tipped over. Runcorn Town: Wills, Latham, Cummins (O’Brien 38), Burton (Adegbenro 80), Dalton, Spearitt, Shanley, Keddie, Grant, McShane, Bellew (Carey 74). Subs not used. McGrath, Kinsey.
Silsden: Mann, Barnes (Moses 55), McEneaney, Douglas (Gaughan 61), Husband, Lamb, Bryan (Marshall 73), Hird, Palfrey, Garrod, Lee.