16th April 2018, Runcorn Linnets FC v Burscough : 3-0 Sponsored by Lost Generation
There was a slightly unusual feeling on Monday evening as Runcorn Linnets hosted Burscough in a Hallmark Security Premier Division encounter.
Our midweek home games are generally on Tuesdays but, if anything, the change added to the anticipation as the Linnets faithful came out in numbers to see their side once again, barely 50 hours after cheering them off the pitch at Charnock Richard.
You could have been forgiven for thinking before kick-off that this game would produce a routine victory for the Linnets of Runcorn.
But anyone at the initial fixture in West Lancashire would attest that Burscough – nickmamed the Linnets, coincidentally – are capable of putting up a significant obstacle, and that proved to be the case again.
There was just the one change to the Runcorn side that started at Charnock on Saturday, Kieran Nolan returning in place of the unavailable Kris Holt.
Kyle Hamid came close to opening the scoring early on, following a great move involving Nolan and Freddie Potter, but Hamid's shot flew across the goal and just wide.
Burscough then had a gilt-edged chance, seemingly out of nowhere, to open the scoring when finding themselves clean through on goal. But Dylan Forth stood big to make a great block with his legs.
In reply, Adam Jones set off on a mazy run down the left wing, cutting across field to fire in a shot which goalkeeper Josh Samburg did well to hold. This was followed by an effort from Potter stinging the visiting keeper's fingers.
There were a couple of slack moments at the back for the Linnets, Forth having to tidy up more than he would have wanted.
The best first-half chance for the hosts to open the scoring fell to Matty Atherton. Usually very reliable in the air, Athers stooped low to head Louis Corrigan's corner kick towards goal but he cleared the crossbar with his attempt from six yards out.
Right on the stroke of half-time, great footwork by Hamid set Jones up for a chance and the latter's fierce strike crashed into the crossbar. In truth it had always been rising.
In seasons gone by, panic would have set in as this game wore on, but the home team kept composure and continued doing the right things to work openings.
Burscough were dealt a get out of jail free card straight from the second half kick-off as Freddie Potter headed into their net, only for the referee to pull play back for a generous foul to Burscough.
The deadlock was broken on the hour mark, Matty Atherton making amends for his earlier miss. Louis Corrigan's free-kick deceived Samburg to hit the crossbar with Athers diving low to head the rebound into the empty net.
A tip of the cap must also go to the intelligent play of Hamid and Potter, who were both in offside positions when Athers applied the finish, but held these positions instead of being drawn to the ball.
They were, therefore, deemed not to have interfered with play.
Immediately following the opening goal, Burscough were reduced to 10 men. Attacker Peter Henerty was shown a straight red card, and I've still not spoken to anyone who can tell me what it was for!
Seven minutes later, it was 2-0 to the Linnets as Michael Simpson eased any lingering nerves around The Millbank.
Receiving the ball from Corrigan's throw-in on the left, Simmo made a run across the pitch to fire in a low strike from 25 yards - catching the goalkeeper out as it nestled in the bottom corner.
Freddie Potter was playing a starring role in attack for Runcorn, but this time as the creator rather than a scorer.
He set up Paul Shanley with a pair of great chances, but Shanners was unable to convert with head or feet.
However, the icing was applied to the cake in the dying seconds, and again Potter created the opening.
Stuart Wellstead, a late substitute in place of Nolan, found space near the penalty spot and was picked out by Potter's fancy footwork.
As cool as a cucumber, Wellstead deceived the goalkeeper with a drop of the shoulder and rolled the ball into the empty net to ignite a feeling of mass joy around the MLS.
How things stand...
We still sit top of the league table and have amassed 91 points. We need nine more points from our five remaining games to be mathematically sure of the title but eight points will almost certainly be enough because of our far superior goals difference.
However, we now don't play for a week and there's a chance that our requirement could change with results elsewhere, so keep your eyes on scores from around the league over the next seven days!
Runcorn Linnets: Dylan Forth, Louis Corrigan, Matt Atherton, Jimmy Moore, Danny O'Brien, Kieran Nolan, Michael Simpson, Kyle Hamid, Freddie Potter, Paul Shanley, Adam Jones. Sub: Stuart Wellstead. Not used: Mitch Bryant, Aaron Morris, Chris Lawton, Matt Holmes.
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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