24th November 2018, Runcorn Linnets FC v Newcastle Town : 1-1 Sponsored by In Memory of Simon Charlesworth
Newcastle Town came to the Millbank Linnets Stadium lying 15th in the EVO-STIK League Division, so might reasonably have been deemed an underdog.
Despite this, they came to play football and what followed was a tight and somewhat enthralling match.
The game was scrappy in the early stages with neither team able to carve out a chance worthy of the name in the first 20 minutes.
Then, firstly Orlando-Young had a snapshot that failed to trouble the Linnets 'keeper Matt Holmes, going high and wide.
Shortly afterwards, Paul Shanley broke into the Newcastle box at pace and was brought down for a penalty that brought no dispute.
Linnets top scorer Freddie Potter struck the penalty confidently, low to the 'keeper's right but Johnson saved well.
This was not a miss by Freddie but a great save by a 'keeper who would go on to be the away team's Man of the Match (although Newcastle actually chose the goalscorer).
On the half hour, Shanley had another mazy run into the box, a nibble from one defender led to a stumble but no fall and consequently no second penalty. In the 34th minute, after a build-up of pressure from Newcastle they took the lead.
Firstly Ward had an excellent shot tipped over by Matt Holmes. The subsequent corner was headed home by Fraser, 1-0 to Newcastle.
In the run up to half-time Linnets had four chances - decent chances - but failed to capitalise.
Shortly after the goal, a cross from left was headed over by Potter. Constant pressure saw a good move which ended with low driven cross from Louis Corrigan that cried out for a deflection from either side, but ended with a throw-in.
Then Connor McCarthy had shot blocked by the impressive Johnson.
Moments later, Shanley saw a great shot hit the bar, the rebound falling to Michael Simpson who volleyed over with colleagues waving arms for a pass into space.
With pressure mounting for an equaliser, Potter slipped a pass through to Kris Holt, whose shot was blocked by the 'keeper.
The final chance of the half fell to Connor McCarthy, a clever pass from his brother Ronnie giving him the opportunity to shoot. Almost inevitably, goalkeeper Johnson managed to block the effort.
Michael Ellison made two changes at half-time, Ronnie McCarthy and Michael Simpson being replaced by Zac Aley and Danny O'Brien.
There appeared to be little difference in formation with O'Brien going into the right back slot and Aley into midfield.
Linnets were to dominate the second half, early interplay between McCarthy and Potter yielding a shot from Connor that was tame and easily saved. In the 59th minute, the seemingly inevitable equaliser came. Potter was brought down 25 yards out on the right of the goal.
There was the usual debate in the crowd as to who would take the free kick, on this occasion it was Louis Corrigan who stepped up to whip in a fierce shot which went in despite a valiant effort from Johnson, who had got a strong hand to it.
In the last half hour, the Linnets created a number of chances but the Newcastle defence resisted well.
McCarthy shot over in the 63rd minute.
McCarthy and Shanley chased down seemingly lost causes in the Newcastle box and created chances that should have been taken but weren't.
In the 87th minute, with the Linnets still piling on the pressure there was a huge shout for a penalty.
The crowd backed the players in yellow and green who felt there was a clear handball that blocked a McCarthy goalbound effort.
The referee was unmoved and instead gave a corner which yielded a blocked shot.
The Linnets defence kept an eye out for the goal that most of us worried might happen on the break.
Kyle Hamid was booked for a foul, that broke up one such move.
Overall the visitors were clearly delighted with the point against a Linnets team competing at the top of the table.
Runcorn Linnets: Holmes, Corrigan, Morris, Wylie, A Morris, Simpson (O'Brien), R McCarthy (Aley), Holt, Hamid, Potter, C McCarthy, Shanley. Subs: not used L Morris, Hinnigan, Evans.
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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