Runcorn Town 1 Squires Gate 1: Match report

Gate celebrate Brett Dawson's equaliser  Picture: ALBERT COOPER
Gate celebrate Brett Dawson's equaliser Picture: ALBERT COOPER
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Squires Gate ended 2016 on a high with a late equaliser away to the Hallmark Security League leaders, though they could have left Cheshire with all three points.

Gate recalled Mike Hall and Mark Thornber into midfield and gave a debut to Joe Griffiths in goal.

The hosts, who won the teams’ previous meeting 6-1, had the first chance when former Gate striker Isaac Kusaloka took aim from distance but fired straight into Griffiths’ arms.

Gate had their first opportunity a minute later but neither Ben Seear nor Jake Higham could capitalise on Brett Dawson’s lovely through ball.

Kusaloka then pulled the ball back for Town’s top scorer Craig Cairns to fire well over from the edge of the box.

At the other end, Seear controlled the ball with a neat flick from Seydou Bamba’s pass but shot straight at the keeper.

Gate’s best chance of the first period came on the half-hour, when Andrew Richards headed into the path of Dawson but his thunderous strike flew wide.

The deadlock was broken three minutes before the interval, when Gate player-manager Danny Penswick was adjudged to have fouled Cairns in the box and the striker converted the penalty.

The home side had a good first 10 minutes to the second half but the rest of the game was mostly dominated by Gate, who saw another Dawson effort saved and a corner cleared off the line.

Bamba twice went close to a Gate equaliser. First he had a shot superbly saved following Dave Rossall’s pass, then a full-stretch Bamba couldn’t quite connect with Mike Hall’s cross.

Gate’s hard work was rewarded six minutes from time, when Higham’s powerful shot cannoned off a post for Dawson to tap home.

The draw saw Town’s lead at the top of the premier division cut to a single point.

Gate start the year 16th but have taken five points from their last three games, four of those points earned away to the top two teams.

They welcome bottom club Cammell Laird 1907 to Marton for the first game of 2017 this Saturday.

MARK ASHMORE

Gate: Griffiths, Carroll, Bamba, Rossall, Penswick, Richards, Thornber, Hall, Higham, B.Seear, Dawson. Subs: Smith, Moorhead.