21st August 2018, Runcorn Linnets FC v Chasetown FC : 2-1 Sponsored by Webbs Builders Merchants
Northern Premier League football made its long-awaited return to Runcorn as Runcorn Linnets enjoyed their home debut in the EVO-STIK League Division One West and came through a pulsating game against Chasetown with maximum points.
The side from Staffordshire made the trek through the endless M6 roadworks for their first ever visit to the Millbank Linnets Stadium, the sides having never faced each other before.
Chasetown are managed by Scott Dundas, remembered by many for being the manager whose Norton United team pipped Linnets to the NWCL Premier Division title in 2014.
Michael Ellison made a number of changes from the side that had been beaten by Droylsden, with Ronnie McCarthy, Kurt Sherlock and new signing Peter Wylie all brought into the starting eleven. Jimmy Moore, Adam Gilchrist and Kieran Nolan were the players missing out.
Linnets started well and controlled the early exchanges. Aaron Morris almost opened the scoring with 10 minutes gone when he turned well inside the penalty area and sent a half volley goalwards that crashed into the crossbar and out to safety.
Linnets did, however, take the lead shortly after as Kris Holt beat a very high line to run clean through on Chasetown's goalkeeper Curtis Pond, round the big shot stopper and square a pass for Kurt Sherlock to finish from a few yards out.
Holt was playing an influential part in Linnets' attacks as his late runs into the penalty area caused Chasetown all sorts of problems. Holty had two great opportunities to extend the Linnets' lead when he twice found himself with a free shot at goal inside the penalty area, but on both occasions a split- second delay allowed Pond to make good saves and keep his side in the game.
Having made very little impact in the opening quarter of an hour, Chasetown pulled themselves level on 16 minutes. A deep cross from the left found Jack Langston unmarked at the far post to head in the equaliser in front of the travelling supporters.
Undoubtedly rocked by being pegged back in a game that they had been controlling, Linnets lost momentum and Chasetwin closed out the first half the stronger. They almost scored a top- class goal when a volleyed effort from well outside the penalty area beat Dylan Forth but not the crossbar, rebounding back into play before being cleared to safety.
The second half was a very even affair with chances for both sides. Chasetown almost took the lead moments after the restart when a header from a corner was cleared off the goal line by Aaron Morris.
Kurt Sherlock was turning in an eye- catching performance with Chasetwon struggling to keep a lid on him.
When Kurt broke away up the right wing and breezed past the visitors' replacement left back, his pinpoint low cross was turned in at the near post by Holt, whose late run had once again fooled the opposition, for a 2-1 Linnets lead.
Chasetown had strong penalty shouts waved away when they claimed Morris had pulled his man to the ground with the referee not interested.
Freddie Potter and Ronnie McCarthy were replaced by Adam Gilchrist and Kieran Nolan as Ello looked to finish the game off.
Kyle Hamid almost secured the points for Linnets as the clock ticked down as Sherlock set up his skipper, but Pond made a terrific save with his trailing leg.
The last 10 minutes were dominated by Chasetown as they desperately tried to salvage a point from their evening's work.
Into injury time, they couldn't have come any closer to doing so. Linnets gave away a needless free kick on Chasetown's left wing, and when an unconventional set piece was drilled low towards the near post it took Kyle Hamid to slice it over the crossbar and away from immediate danger.
However, from the resulting corner Joe Beaumont rose highest to flick a header towards the unguarded far post, but thankfully the ball ricocheted off the inside of the upright, bounced around the six-yard box and after an almighty scramble was eventually cleared to a collective sigh of relief around the MLS.
There is no question that the two games that we have played so far have been very tough, but we have performed well in both.
The standard we are at now is visibly stronger than what we have been used to. But this has made for two very entertaining football matches!
Attention now turns away from league action and to the Emirates FA Cup, as we host another side for the first time on Saturday afternoon as Maltby Main visit the MLS in the preliminary round. Kick off is 3pm.
Runcorn Linnets: Dylan Forth, Louis Corrigan, Aaron Morris, Peter Wylie, Michael Simpson, Ronnie McCarthy, Kristian Holt, Kyle Hamid (c), Freddie Potter, Paul Shanley, Kurt Sherlock. Subs: Kieran Nolan, Adam Gilchrist. Not used: Niall Watson, Jimmy Moore, Danny O'Brien.
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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