1st October 2016, Runcorn Linnets FC v Daisy Hill : 4-2 Sponsored by Spenny's Crewby Ste Bignall
Runcorn Linnets eased through to the second round of The Macron Chalenge Cup on Saturday afternoon, despite a spirited second-half showing from Hallmark Security League Division One side Daisy Hill at a sodden Millbank Linnets Stadium.
Changes to the home team were only to be expected with so many crucial games having recently passed and others just around the corner. Vita Mbdokele, Kristian Holt, Taylor Kennerley and Steve Foster all came into Michael Ellison's starting eleven.
The home side took total control from the off, constant probing and prodding from the Linnets' attack failing to break the deadlock in the opening 25 minutes, which were played out in non-stop, torrential rain.
It was always just a matter of time, however, before the opener came for Runcorn and it was front man Foster who was on the prowl in the six-yard box to flick home Chris Lawton's towering header across goal from an in-swinging corner by Danny McKenna.
The goal of the day, and probably goal of the season so far, was scored 10 minutes before half-time. Home skipper Kyle Hamid had not long finished an amusing stint on the shoulders of the Daisy Hill 'keeper - to repair a goal net that had come loose from its crossbar fixing – when he stood over a free-kick 25 yards out, near the left corner of the penalty area.
With only one action in mind, he swept a stunning strike high and powerfully into the very top corner of the far, right side of goal, leaving the 'keeper rooted to the spot and everyone else in the MLS in awe of the quality of the Runcorn captain's work.
Taylor Kennerley should arguably have already had two goals before he finally troubled the scorer shortly before half-time. Played clean through on goal by Adam Wade's through ball, he advanced into the area to slotted the ball under the keeper's body to close out the first half with Linnets 3-0 up and feeling that the game was as good as won.
Seven minutes into the second half, a moment of good officiating, in an overall strong performance from the three men in black, allowed the Linnets a fourth and killer goal.
The linesman correctly flagged for a foul on Mbdokele, who had been charging up the right wing. But the ref overruled his assistant, to allow an advantage, and Wade picked out the unmarked Steve Foster with an inch-perfect cross. The experienced striker again made no mistake, this time with a volley from eight yards out.
'Ello' used his full quota of permitted substitutions in order to rest some of his squad for the upcoming game against Bootle on Tuesday night. Aaron Morris, Lawton and Foster made way for Andy Thorpe, Ronnie McCarthy and Bev Burey.
The changes meant that only Danny McKenna remained from the usual defensive unit and this did unsettle the home side. Defensive shape was lost and Daisy Hill managed to grab a couple of well-worked goals to make the last 20 minutes interesting.
However, the visitors never managed another meaningful effort on goal and it was the Linnets who were seeking further fruits.
Anthony Hickey came closest to increasing the goal tally, Daisy Hill's 'keeper twice unknowingly saving close-range headers from the front man, turning one of them on to the bar via his shoulder.
Full-time brought about a thoroughly deserved victory for the home side, and on speaking to assistant manager Matty Cross before the game, he made it clear that this is a competition that the team are looking to try to win this season. But there's a long way to go yet!
NB. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Runcorn Linnets FC or its Board.