TOWN crashed out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle with a very disappointing performance against North West Counties Premier Division Runcorn Town.
And the day went from bad to worse when manager Mick Couzens resigned after only four games in charge.
Town’s best spell of the game came in the opening 10 minutes.
Wayne Crossley ran at the home defence before being fouled on the edge of the box,
Jacob Lever’s free-kick was deflected, with Shane Hamilton only inches away from prodding the ball past home keeper Karl Wills.
Town continued to play on the front foot with Crossley again causing the home defence problems. His deep cross to the far post just eluded Hamilton.
Runcorn soaked up the early pressure and took the lead on 14 minutes.
James McShane touched a free-kick on the edge of the Town box to Scott Burton who hit a right foot shot low into the corner of Ben Imeson’s goal.
A minute later Runcorn were very lucky to still have 11 men on the field when the referee only booked Jason Carey for stamping on Crossley as he lay on the ground.
To rub salt into the Town wound, on 18 minutes Carey flicked the ball up for McShane to make it 2-0.
Runcorn’s greater experience was showing and Town were struggling to find any rhythm, although it was not for the lack of effort from youngsters Danny Hull and Ben Green in the Town midfield, neither player trying to “hide” when the going got tough and still demanding the ball and working hard.
Good work by Hamilton released Hull in the box who was stopped by a good tackle, and Hamilton’s goalbound effort as he followed up was deflected for a corner.
Imeson came to Town’s rescue on 36 minutess when they were caught out at the back and allowed McShane a clear run at goal. The Town keeper got down quickly to make a smart save.
Town started the second half with a chance in the opening five minutes.
Dave Pemberton slipped a ball through to Hull in the box. He should perhaps have shot, instead he rounded the keeper and put over a cross that did not find a team-mate.
Two minutes later the game was effectively over when Runcorn made it 3-0.
Ryan Malone’s shot was well saved by Imeson but Emini Adegbenro smashed home the rebound with Town claiming he was offside when the initial shot came in.
On 58 minutes Runcorn increased their lead when Adegbenro broke clear and squared the ball for McShane to grab his second with a tap in from six yards.
With the game won, Runcorn took their foot of the gas and introduced their substitutes,
Town did likewise, Feather, Woffenden and Hawker replacing Coop, Lever and Crossley.
Town kept battling away, Hamilton had a good shot from the edge of the box well saved by Wills, Dave Woffenden just missing with the follow up and Steve Hollingworth had a powerful 30-yard effort just clear the crossbar.
Town pulled a goal back on 76 minutes, Woffenden cutting the ball back to Hollingworth who finished with a well taken left foot shot.
Town’s goal only served to stir Runcorn into life again and the last 10 minutes was a fairly torrid time for Town as the home side carved out chance after chance.
McShane, Bellew and Mitchell were all guilty of glaring misses and Imeson pulled off two fantastic saves.
Hull’s pass gave Pemberton a half chance but he took the ball too wide of goal and with five minutes left, the referee seemed to even things out after the stamping incident, when Ryan Brook was only given a yellow card for hauling down McShane when he was the last defender.