Saturday 6th April
North West Counties League Premier Division
WIGAN ROBIN PARK 0 RUNCORN TOWN 1
Tea Hut Stuff: Meat & Potato Pie and a Tea £2.30 all in.
Weather: Bright and sunny, slight chill in the breeze.
Parkng: Club car park
I've done the Wigan RP experience already this season (see visit report v Barnoldswick) so no pictures this time around.
This was a must win game for Runcorn Town, anything less than 3 points would give their title chasing opponents a vital edge in the exciting end of season run in.
Most of the crowd appeared to be following Town in the wide open Robin Park Stadium and quite a number were already in the lounge area at the top of the big stand when I arrived. You cannot go to Wigan and not have a pie, last time I came here they had a kitchen fire 2 hours before kick off and burned them all. This time around I was fortunate enough to sample a Meat and Potato special and it lived up to the hype. A bit brown on the crust but a really tasty filling.
I found todays action on the pitch a bit of a let down really. The important factor was that Runcorn Town won, the fact that they won 'ugly' will be forgotten soon enough, its the points that matter. No disrespect intended to Wigan the stadium is not the most atmospheric ground on the NWCL circuit and being so far from the pitch behind the athletics track seems to alienate the spectator.
Paul Shanley got Towns winner in the 13th minute, my early optimism for a goal fest proved well short of the mark. The first half witnessed Wigan playing a rather tentative formation with only one man up front on most occasions. In response the more open tactics applied by Town seemed to get bogged down in a busy midfield area. Few chances and fragmented scrappy football was the result.
I'd sat in the stand for the first half which was a bit like a deep freeze in all the shade, the option to stand in the sunshine on the far side of the stadium was a much more favourable option for the second period. Once over there it became evident that the pitch seemed about a quarter of a mile away, a sinking sun also made clear visibility a bit of a pain, I chanced my arm like a few others to stand on the running track in front of the barrier to get closer to the action, fortunately nobody stopped the incursion.
Wigan came back into the game much stronger as the game reached the hour mark, they fed on the nervous indecision of the visitors as intricately planned moves fizzled out halfway through the plot. As in the previous encounter with Runcorn Linnets, Town gave away far too many free kicks deep in their own territory, whether fair or foul, it was hard work watching the outcome. Fortunately (for Town) Wigan just couldn't grab an equaliser, despite hitting the inside of the post with a fine long range volley.
The thought that a seasons effort could fizzle out in this ping-pong non spectacle of a game made the tension even greater as the final whistle approached, I for one was more than glad when the referee blew for full time. Runcorn Town took the points but in fairness to Wigan Robin Park they probably deserved a draw.