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Bishop Auckland 1, Runcorn FC Halton 3

ON paper, it looks a morale-boosting victory.

ON paper, it looks a morale-boosting victory.

But despite five successive defeats leading up to this first North East trip of the campaign, the Linnets had never lacked confidence or belief out on the pitch ­ just the finishing power which was happily rediscovered on Saturday.

They did well to end what had been a more frustrating than demoralising run of results ­ particularly as they were facing another setback after falling behind midway through the first half.

Bishop striker Lee Ellison was left free to fire past a stranded Mark Winstanley ­ playing with six stitches in his forehead ­ in 27 minutes.

But the opener was very much against the run of play and it didn't take long for parity to be restored.

Loan striker Kevin Leadbetter had already shot over the top and seen another effort saved with the scoresheet blank.

He gave Bishop Auckland's defence hardly a minute's peace with his electric pace, well-chosen runs and an ability to set-up play.

the 35th-minute goal which levelled things was entirely due to Leadbetter's alertness in  closing down and dispossessing Bishop's left wing-back Anthony Lee.

With Runcorn team-mates still coming up in support, Leadbetter delivered an early cross to the far, right post where Paul McNally knocked home the first of his brace.

Leadbetter was one of two visiting players making their debuts and while he caught the eye, the other newcomer, Dominic Morley, went about his business in a quietly efficient manner, breaking up play effectively and distributing well.

It was his searching pass to Steve Carragher on the right which set up a late first-half chance from which a disbelieving Leadbetter saw his shot rebound off the bar.

With Morley lying deep, Chris Price was able to venture further forward and his reverse pass to Leadbetter in the 50th minute deserved to set up a goal.

Instead, home keeper David Campbell produced another good save.

However, Runcorn belatedly went in front in the 63rd minute. Carragher waited for  Leadbetter to escape an offside position and using him as a decoy runner on the outside turned infield to deliver a fine cross.

There was still much work to do and McNally sent a looping header across the goal and keeper into the right corner.

Leadbetter and Price went close after more good play from Carragher who earned the Linnets the extra insurance of a third goal 12 minutes from time ­ latching onto Leadbetter's perfectly-weighed pass over the top to fire exquisitely past Campbell.

Runcorn FC Halton: Winstanley, Carragher, McMahon, Ellis, Tomlinson, Whalley, Price, Morley (Latham 84), McNally, Gamble, Leadbetter. Subs: Ness, Lunt.

Attendance: 191.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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