21st July 2018, Rhyl v Runcorn Linnets FC : 0-0
A fast and furious friendly somehow ended goalless but not for the want of trying.
Two penalties, one for each side, were saved while there was no shortage of other opportunities.
But a mixture of good goalkeeping, particularly by the hosts, and near misses at either end saw the unlikeliest of results given the attacking intent on show.
The visit to the North Wales coast, for what is now the only pre-season away game for Michael Ellison's men, brought a touch of nostalgia for Linnets fans.
The yellow and green tip-ups in one of the seated stands covering three sides of the impressive Corbetts Sports Stadium had been been acquired by the Lilywhites from Runcorn AFC's Canal Street ahead of its demolition.
But for the players, there was no time to dwell on the present, let alone the past - such was the pace and intensity of an eventful end-to end game.
It had the feeling of an encounter with much at stake instead of a pre-season warm-up and briefly became over competitive late in the first half.
An over-zealous tackle on Mitch Bryant near the dugouts led to tempers flaring.
The referee ultimately requested the withdrawals of Rhyl's centre half for the ill-advised challenge and Runcorn's Trialist D, one of six unsigned players in an experimental matchday squad, for his unwarranted retaliation.
Runcorn had good reason for thinking at half-time that they could have been two or three goals to the good.
But they might have been behind by the 14th minute. One of Linnets' trialist centre backs, in trying to ensure that the ball ran safely through to Dylan Forth, caught the opposition forward giving chase.
The resulting spot kick was weakly struck, however, and failed to greatly trouble Forth as he saved.
Midway through the half, Runcorn were denied what looked a valid penalty of their own with Shanley being taken out on the point of pulling the trigger on Kasie Jones' long ball.
Winger Shanley was thwarted twice more before the break- by excellent reaction saves.
Five minutes into the second half, Rhyl were kept out by a vital block by Jones and then from the ensuing corner, a goalline clearance by Kris Holt.
When Shanley was upended again in the box four minutes later, the referee this time pointed to the spot. But Trialist C's penalty wasn't the best and was saved almost as comfortably as Rhyl's corresponding earlier effort.
Runcorn Trialist A, the left-sided centre half, steadied himself to get in a close-range shot from a corner to almost send the visitors ahead but it was blocked on the line.
Rhyl posed a threat with a number of crosses from the right but without making any of them count.
Both sides had kept on probing and pressing for a breakthrough from the first whistle to last and Runcorn alnost snatched a last-gasp winner.
Freddie Potter, having come on in the 57th minute, headed down for Trialist E to fire just wide.
This more or less signalled the end of an open and entertaining game and a very useful workout for both sides - albeit one that Linnets really ought to have won.
Runcorn Linnets:Dylan Forth, Louis Corrigan, Trialist A, Trialist B, Kasie Jones, Kieran Nolan, Trialist C, Kris Holt, Mitch Bryant, Paul Shanley, Trialist D. Subs (all used): Michael Simpson, Danny O'Brien, Trialist E, Freddie Potter, Trialist F.
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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