A SEASON in which UniBond League Premier Division survival has always been the number one priority could yet carry a cup bonus.
The Linnets reached the League Challenge Cup semi-finals for the first time since winning the competition for a third time a quarter of a century ago.
Teenager Shaun Whalley signalled his return after suspension and loss of form with the first two goals - one in each half.
Runcorn were full value for the win despite Witton going for broke in a late rally to briefly halve the arrears. The visitors hit the woodwork early on before Thomas Lamb helped on James Locke's through ball for Whalley to slip a 15th minute opener into the bottom-left corner.
Witton skipper Brian Pritchard was booked for his offside protests. Despite the weaving wing play of Mark Peers on the right posing a considerable threat, the Linnets held their shape well throughout.
Just after the hour mark they doubled their lead as Adam Hunter's good work culiminated in Whalley capitalising on oceans of space to send in a low, angled finish inside the keeper's right post.
After a Witton appeal for handball against right-back Mark Phillips had been dismissed, the hosts were awarded an 81st-minute spot-kick when centre-back Paddy O'Driscoll clearly handled.
Robbie Holcroft saved Peers' weak effort and also the rebound but was beaten at the third attempt as Mike Bowler bundled in.
However, Albion's attempted recovery was nipped in the bud a minute later as Darren Hockenhull's back header gave Runcorn sub and top scorer Lee Furlong chance to sweep home to finally settle the issue.
WITTON: Westhead, Brownhill, Ness (Hockenhull 67), Pritchard, Hughes, McNutt, (Bowler 63), Connors, McDonald, Moseley (Hurst 52), Butterworth, Peers.
RUNCORN: Holcroft, Phillips, Flood, O'Driscoll, Burns, Bowden, Hunter, Scott, Lamb, Whalley (Fur-long 75), Locke. Subs: Carragher, Richie.