WITH Pete Heler and Mike Moseley still suffering from knocks then this latest pre-season match against the team who share Wincham Park’s facilities saw the controversial figure of Steve Foster wearing the number 10 shirt.
Love him or loath him what can not be taken away was his deadly art of finishing as he notched up a hat-trick of goals in a shade of 30 minutes.
Whether Albion’s tight budget sees him signing permanently though time will tell.
The other new trialist on view was Jamie Tandy who was at Droylsden last season but perhaps better known for being attacked by Joey Barton in his earlier career with Manchester City.
Runcorn showed great promise in the opening minutes with Albion camped in their own half and really it was from the "home" team’s first real attack that the 8th minute goal came.
A poorly directed clearance by keeper Andy Jones was collected on the left flank by Lee Neville who spotted Foster advance to the near post to deliver a perfect cross for the striker to neatly head home.
Neville himself should have extended the lead two minutes later but failed to make contact with Brad Maylett’s cross from the right.
On 25 minutes Foster judged the flight from a left sided corner-kick to perfection and headed home Albion’s second goal. Six minutes later it was 3-0 this time a corner from the opposite side awarded after Jones had done well to tip over Dave Neville’s 25-yard drive. The flag-kick not dealt with by the Linnets’s defence and up popped Foster to side-foot home from close range. Maylett five minutes later cut infield before sending his shot narrowly wide of the right post.
The luxury of five changes at the interval, together with a further three ten minutes into the second period, although disrupting Albion’s flowing game served to give manager Gary Finley his first opportunity to see how his fringe squad and trialists shaped up.
Jordan King, who found himself in a central midfield role after the second wave of substitutions, twice brought the ball through to produce shooting opportunities but with his left foot.
Stuart Rudd had a couple of chances to get on the score-sheet in the last two minutes with his first effort blocked and the second saved by the keeper.
At the other end Greg Smith pulled off a terrific blocked save to keep his team-mate Chris Brown miss-hit clearance out but the keeper’s positioning had to be questioned minutes earlier when substitute Francis Humphries first touch of the ball was to collect a long clearance and lob the keeper that despite a heroic effort by Brown on the line ended with the Linnets gaining a well deserved consolation goal.