Jamie Rainford’s stoppage-time equaliser denied 10-man Widnes derby delight.
Steven Irwin was sent off on the stroke of half-time for an incident on the touchline, leaving the hosts a man light for just under an hour.
Despite their man disadvantage, it was the hosts who took the lead. Jay Roberts opened the scoring after the Whites rounded off an incisive counterattack, 15 minutes before the end.
Despite 17 places separating the two sides in the Northern Premier League West, it was Michael Ellison’s side, who sit 19th, who started brighter.
Dave Wild continued to be grateful for his goalkeeper Danny Taberner who made a number of crucial saves throughout the 90 minutes.
Particularly in the first half when the shot-stopper blocked Irwin’s one-on-one approach after he was presented an opportunity through a defensive mixup.
On loan Altrincham striker Sharif Deans then latched onto Will Jones’ flick on but the 29-year-old again smothered the danger.
Widnes thought they had a second shortly after Roberts’ opener but George Hassall was ruled offside after Kai Shorrock’s initial effort deflected into his path following another counter attack.
The Whites substitute was denied again when the outstretched left arm of Taberner blocked an effort destined to sneak in at the near post.
Runcorn Linnets probed late on and deep into injury time, Brooke’s header forced a scramble and the division’s top goalscorer, Rainford, was on hand to stab home to break Widnes’ hearts.
Widnes 1-1 Runcorn Linnets
Goals: 74′ Jay Roberts; 90’+ Jamie Rainford.
Cards: 43′ Steven Irwin
HT/FT Score: 0-0/1-1.