31st July 2018, Runcorn Linnets FC v Rylands FC : 2-0
Runcorn Linnets picked up their second win of pre-season but were made to work hard for success by a useful Rylands outfit.
The Warrington side were only four days away from launching their debut campaign in the Hallmark Security League Division One South and stayed in this game until late on.
However, Runcorn only grew stronger as the evening progressed, being boosted on the hour as influential central defender Jimmy Moore made his reappearance after being injured in the opening friendly against Chester.
Attacking regulars Freddie Potter and Paul Shanley likewise came on for the last half hour to make the home side tick with some fast, one touch football.
Shanley almost immediately had the ball in the net, only to see his effort ruled offside but the dynamic winger was not to be denied.
With 82 minutes gone, he ran through the middle, outpacing and holding off a defender to carefully steer the ball home.
Freddie Potter then saw a good header from a cross by another second half replacement, teenage right back Kasie Jones, strike the underside of the bar.
But a Linnets third would gave been harsh on Rylands, who gave a very good account of themselves in all areas and responded particularly well after falling behind in the 48th minute.
A foul on Mitch Bryant had resulted in a free-kick in a central position, just outside the penalty area.
Full back Louis Corrigan's measured left-foot shot, coupled with a deflection off the head of a defender in the wall, had 'keeper Graeme McCall beaten to his right.
Rylands could soon have been level with George Riley's fine attempt from long distance coming back off the left upright. Even before that, it had been 'keeper Matty Holmes to the Linnets' rescue with a smart save after their defence had been opened up.
Stuart Wellstead, one of the host club's 2017-18 title winners, was promptly if unexpectedly returning to The Millbank Linnets Stadium as the visitors' co-manager. Soon after being introduced, he forced a save from Holmes with a 67th-minute header.
Linnets, having begun with the latest in a string of pre-season trialists in central defence, had meanwhile welcomed back skipper Kyle Hamid into their starting line-up.
Concern will have been raised, however, at injuries forcing the withdrawals of midfielder Michael Simpson, after a poor tackle from behind in the first half, and centre back Aaron Morris into the second.
Linnets will otherwise only have benefitted from this extra friendly, arranged at three days' notice.
They conclude their warm-up campaign at home to former landlords Witton Albion this Saturday, ko 3pm.
Rylands will at the same time kick off their maiden Step 6 campaign at fellow North West Counties newcomers, Ellesmere Rangers.
Certainly on this evidence, the men from Gorsey Lane should more than hold their own in new surroundings this season.
Runcorn Linnets: Matt Holmes, Louis Corrigan, Trialist A, Aaron Morris, Danny O'Brien, Kieran Nolan, Michael Simpson, Kyle Hamid, Mitch Bryant, Kris Holt, Trialist B. Subs: Jimmy Moore, Paul Shanley, Freddie Potter, Kasie Jones, Trialist C, Trialist D. Not used: Dylan Forth (GK).
Rylands: Graeme McCall, Luke Colford, Brad Williams, Gaz Kenny, Danny Tree, Carl Lownsbrough, George Riley, Ste Wolhuter, Rhys Bowers, Alex McMilan, Lee Vaughan. Subs: Tom Parry, Carter Costello, Stuart Wellstead, Josh Hayes. Attendance: 121.
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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