RUNCORN's run of home results showed no change in a weekend of status quo at the top of the North West Counties League Division Two.
Leaders Linnets, title favourites Winsford and third-placed Padiham picked up victories.
Steve Carragher's side made it 13 Wincham Park wins from 14 attempts and it was a comfortable and well-deserved victory.
But as end-of-season tension continues to bite, they had to rely on penalties for their last two goals.
Colin Flood, playing in central midfield instead of wide left before going off with a bang to the head, converted both.
His efforts came either side of half-time, his second on the re-bound.
This followed the dismissal of Richard Fogarty for handling Paul Scott's goalbound shot on the line, leaving Darwen to negotiate 41 minutes with 10 men.
Linnets had been ahead inside a minute. Andy McCoy twisted and turned before firing against the right post and Michael Young netted from almost on the goalline.
Runcorn could have scored more in a very bright opening but were stunned when midway through the half, Jason Jones' swirling shot had too much for Robbie Holcroft - the keeper only helping it inside his right upright.
After Tommy Bowdon had seen a 33rd-minute follow-up 'goal' to Scott's initial strike deemed offside, Runcorn's advantage was restored three minutes from the break.
Skipper Scott, as always heavily involved, was sandwiched by two visiting players and pushed.
Flood's subsequent left-foot penalty sent keeper Ian Harle the wrong way.
His second spot kick on 49 minutes was earned by Linnets' workaholic striker Dave Thompson putting pressure on the keeper from a near-post header by centre-back Paddy O'Driscoll at a left-wing corner.
Instead of being able to collect comfortably, Harle was forced to fist away.
A quick reaction and snap shot from Scott forced Fogarty into his fateful handling offence.
Runcorn were seldom under threat from that point - the visitors' only effort of note being charged down by Holcroft after Stuart Telfer had been left unmarked on the right of the box to unleash a left-foot strike.
McCoy, restored to the right wing, also did his share of work infield while 18-year-old striker Liam Loughlin gave a good account of himself on debut for Linnets.
As Runcorn continued to look likelier scorers, the deadline signing from Maghull turned the ball inside for Thompson, who must have thought he had added a merited 73rd-minute four th.
But Harle got across to complete an unlikely recovery save.
Linnets: Holcroft, Holmes, Parle, O'Driscoll, Boden, Flood (Edwards 79), McCoy, Scott, Thompson, Loughlin (Quirk 84), Young. Sub: Rollinson. Attendance: 172.