15th September 2018, Runcorn Linnets FC v Colne : 2-0
Runcorn Linnets put in their strongest performance of the season so far to inflict an eye-catching first defeat of the season on visitors Colne on Saturday.
The second half in particular was at times a joy to witness as the Linnets turned over the club which won promotion from the North West Counties League two years before them.
Ronnie McCarthy and Freddie Potter were both restored to the starting eleven as Ello's squad seems to be finally shaking off the numerous injuries that have dogged the team's start.
The first half was a very tight affair with neither side really testing the opposition goalkeeper. Both sides looked comfortable at the back but neither could take control of the game to the level they would have liked.
Colne did have a couple of chances that they failed to convert. Firstly, Joe Gaughan forced Dylan Forth to tip a low shot around a post before Waqas wasted their best chance of the day, shooting well wide from an unmarked position at the far post.
Linnets then created a couple of openings themselves as the half wore on. The best of these fell to Niall Watson after being picked out by a superb Kyle Hamid pass. Unfortunately, the ball wouldn't drop quickly enough for Watson and his half volley across goal went wide.
The contrast in play between the first and second halves could not have been more different as Runcorn stepped up several gears and went on to dominate proceedings.
The pressure on the Colne goal started to build straight from the restart and it took a flying punch from Colne's goalkeeper to prevent Watson heading in Potter's cross.
The deadlock was broken on the hour mark and it was the impressive pairing of Watson and Potter which created and scored the goal.
Niall Watson picked up a pass from Louis Corrigan on the halfway line and, with a clever drop of the shoulder, turned away from his marker to run into space up the channel.
Spotting Potter's run into the box, Watson played a sublime, early low cross towards the penalty spot. Potter swept home first time with a quality finish.
With a previously solid Colne backline visibly rocked, the Linnets sought to increase their lead. Watson came within an inch of doing just that with what would have been a goal-of-the-season contender.
A Linnets corner was cleared out of the penalty area by Colne but Watson was waiting, and with a looping first-time volley from 25 yards, he clattered the crossbar with the Colne 'keeper well beaten.
However, the young goalkeeper still had a big part to play in the move as he acrobatically saved the scissors-kick rebound effort from Potter and a further follow-up strike by Kyle Hamid.
Crossbar, great save and great save again all within the space of five seconds!
The second and match-killing goal came with 15 minutes remaining. By the high standards Linnets often reach from set- piece deliveries, it would be fair to say that they had been off the boil during the game.
But Louis Corrigan picked the perfect time to play in a deadly inswinging corner kick, low with pace and swing. Aaron Morris nipped in just ahead of the goalkeeper to help the ball over the line from less than a yard out.
With the Linnets now having a commanding lead and Colne out of ideas and also substitutes, due to a few injuries picked up during the game, the contest was closed out professionally by Ello's men and without any further stresses at either end.
It had been a magnificent second-half performance by the Linnets. It must remembered that we are still only ankle deep in Evo-Stik League experience, and with Colne a few years ahead of us and unbeaten this season, before stepping on to the Millbank Linnets Stadium turf, it's wise that fans heed the words of captain Kyle Hamid.
"It's early days yet, but let's all enjoy the good times while they are here".
Runcorn Linnets:Dylan Forth, Louis Corrigan, Aaron Morris, Peter Wylie, Michael Simpson, Kieran Nolan, Ronnie McCarthy, Kyle Hamid, Freddie Potter, Paul Shanley, Niall Watson. Subs: Kurt Sherlock. Not used: Connor McCarthy, Josh Dobie, Danny O'Brien, Liam Collings.
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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