11th October 2016, Runcorn Linnets FC v Cammell Laird 1907 : 3-0 Sponsored by Albert Pendleton and Family
It was against the Birkenhead side that the current unbeaten run began way back in August when a controversial injury time equaliser cost the Linnets all 3 points in a 3-3 draw.
Chris Lawton returned to the heart of defence having served his suspension, but Danny O'Brien was still on the banned list meaning Vita Mbdokele retained his right back position from Saturday's win at Maine Road.
The first 25 minutes of this game were played at a high tempo by both sides and both had a good chance to open the scoring. First off a good switch from left to right set Lairds in behind Danny McKenna and a crisp first time volley flew just over the bar, while at the other end a lovely through ball by Hamid allowed Hickey to cut in from the right and flash a shot across goal that beat the keeper but also the post.
The game was still a pretty even contest when the home side opened the lead on 36 minutes. Mbdokele started his run with the ball from near his own corner flag and advanced to the halfway line before passing the ball to Hickey who made a sublime first time return flick to Mbdokele who had continued his run and delivered an inch perfect cross on to the head of Ronnie Mcarthy who found himself unmarked 6 yards out to score his first goal for the Linnets.
It was 2-0 shortly after when a goal was scored without the quality of the opener but with the tenacity of a player who just wouldn't accept being tackled as a way of preventing his ambitions. Mark Houghton picked the ball up in a neutral position to the left of the 18 yard box and was tackled when trying to force a better angle. Undeterred he won the ball back instantly before being tackled again, a mere inconvenience to Houghto as he yet again won the ball back instantly and laid it off to Adam Wade who swung the ball in goalwards where the Lairds right back was on hand to make a block, but who should appear to side foot the loose ball home? You guessed it, Houghton to make it 2-0 with one of the most individually battled for goals you will ever see!
The Linnets seemed content with their lead in the second half and allowed Lairds some time on the ball while trying to nick an opening on the counter attack. This lead to the visitors working some good attacking positions, particularly when both Chris Lawton and Aaron Morris had to chase back on separate occasions and throw in last ditch tackles to prevent Lairds getting a clear sight at goal. They did work a good chance that Tom Hunt did well to keep out initially and also in the follow up.
Lairds tired with 20 minutes to go and Michael Ellison took the opportunity to introduce Bev Burey, Steve Foster and Kristian Holt into the fray. The fresh legs were too much for the wilting visitors as the Linnets moved in for the kill and could of scored 4 or 5 before the final whistle. Bev Burey headed over when well placed, Steve Foster set the hardworking but unlucky Paul Shanley up with what looked like a banker from 5 yards out that Shanners swept wide and Steve Foster almost scored a goal of the season candidate with a volleyed lob from the right wing that beat the keeper all ends up but crashed back off the inside of the post to safety. This was one of many moves and touches of real quality from the big front man.
It mattered not though as the Linnets did create the killer opening when Foster held the ball up well and set it up for Kristian Holt to rifle the ball across the keeper and into the bottom corner from just outside the area with 8 minutes to go, scoring his first goal since his move from Atherton Colls and finalising the scoring at 3-0.
Anyone who watched this game would agree that Lairds offered much more than expected for a team rooted to the foot of the table, and under their new management will surely start to climb up the ladder soon. Fixtures like this have proved tricky in past seasons and it was in fact this time last year that we lost a game at Alsager who sat bottom of the league without a win to their name. So it's a testament to the guile of this new look side that they put in a hardworking performance and secured the 3 points without too much of a worry.
NB. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Runcorn Linnets FC or its Board.
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