Vauxhall 1, Runcorn 2: IT WAS a dark evening all round at Rivacre Park last night.
Floodlight failure caused a 20-minute break in play before the Motormen went down to defeat, allowing neighbours Runcorn to leapfrog them in the table, writes Christopher Beesley.
And just as the hosts were coming back into the contest, striker Karl O'Donnell, their most potent threat, was stretchered off forcing them to go down to 10 men as all three substitutes had already been used.
Manager Owen Brown said: 'Karl's injury was symptomatic of our season. Whenever we try and do something, somebody seems to get injured, shot or beaten up. But the truth was that we did not apply ourselves like we know we can. As soon as we start thinking we're a good team, we don't seem to be putting the effort in.
'It's been a rollercoaster season but there's been too many lows and not enough highs.'
Vauxhall were forced to give 17-year-old keeper Liam Murphy his first league start due to Tim Dittmer's one-match suspension, but just getting the fixture completed seemed to be a bigger worry as 20 minutes into the contest the ground was plunged into darkness.
Just eight minutes after play resumed the Linnets took the lead when Lee Mulvaney shot low to Murphy's right and although the teenage custodian got a hand to the ball, he was unable to keep it out.
The visitors doubled their lead 10 minutes later as Mulvaney robbed Phil Brazier of possession before squaring to Matty McGinn, who netted with a simple finish that looped over Murphy.
Brown introduced a trio of substitutes early in the second half and Vauxhall started to look more dangerous with O'Donnell driving a low effort just wide of Neil Thompson's right-hand post while Anthony Wright was denied twice in quick succession by Thompson.
A goal materialised on 71 minutes as O'Donnell used his pace to beat Runcorn's defence to James Olsen's measured ball upfield, slotting low to Thompson's left. But he was soon on his way out, along with Vauxhall's hopes.
Vauxhall: Murphy, Woodyatt, Spellman (McDermott 52), Griffiths (Noone 65), McNulty, Brazier, D Wright (Nesbitt 56), Lawton, A Wright, Olsen, O'Donnell.