Runcorn Linnets 3, Barnoldswick Town 1
Town gave a good account of themselves at the Millbank Linnets Stadium last Saturday, but table-topping Runcorn made it six wins out of their last six with a hat-trick from Antony Hickey.
Barnoldswick started well on a decent surface, forcing a couple of early chances.
But the hosts took the lead after just 10 minutes, as Hickey burst clear and slamming home.
Former Linnet Paul Fildes’ men enjoyed a spell of pressure, but Runcorn remained in the ascendancy, with Matt Atherton and Kev Towey both going close.
Atherton squandered another opening, heading wide when well-placed from a pin-point cross.
But just before the half hour, it was 2-0, with Ellison slipping through a perfect pass into the path of Hickey, who made no mistake in finding the net.
Before the interval, however, Barnoldswick gave themselves a glimmer of hope as Liam Blades forced the ball home.
Linnets responded, and Hickey was denied a first half hat-trick as he wasted another headed opportunity.
After the break, as the wind picked up, Linnets restored their two-goal advantage just three minutes in.
Again, it was that man Hickey, applying the finishing touch after a goalmouth scramble.
With little pattern to proceedings, Martin Crowder and Towey went close for the home side. who also had a couple of half-hearted penalty claims waved away by the referee.
Town were not finished though, and they kept Andy Robertson busy at the other end.
The game petered out, however, as the hosts maintained their grip at the top of the table.
Town lie 14th after one win in their last six outings, although they can take some confidence from their performance here.
Tomorrow, they make the trip to face Norton United (kick-off 3 p.m.), while the reserves are also in action at Cheadle Town.