8th December 2018, Runcorn Linnets FC v Glossop North End : 2-2 Sponsored by In memory of Dave Bignall
Glossop North End made their first visit to the Millbank Linnets Stadium on Saturday since their final game as a North West Counties League side back in 2015, when with the title already secured and a trip to Wembley in the FA Vase final looming they brought an end-of-season carnival atmosphere and left Step 5 with a 0-1 victory.
They have fared extremely well at Step 4 in the time since, enjoying a run in the promotion playoffs, but have struggled this season and came to the MLS sitting 17th in the league table.
Linnets were going into the game on the back of two hard-fought and outstanding away victories in the space of a week at Ramsbottom and Hyde United, and will have been looking to continue that form in front of a home crowd.
Dylan Forth, Peter Wylie, Paul Shanley, Kris Holt and Freddie Potter all returned to the starting lineup after being rested for the midweek cup fixture.
Glossop won the coin toss and forced Runcorn to kick the "wrong" way in the first half, something that always leaves a slightly unsettling feeling!
The visitors came out of the traps much the stronger and severely punished a woeful first-half Linnets performance.
A warning shot was fired early on when a familiar attacking foe, Dom Marie fired from outside the penalty area a low shot, forcing a save from Dylan Forth.
Things could have been very different had Kris Holt converted the best chance his side would create for 83 minutes. Holty had been played clean through on goal by a clever pass from Freddie Potter, but the usually composed attacking midfielder blazed his shot over the bar with only the 'keeper to beat.
Glossop took the lead on 22 minutes. A crossfield ball from left to right found Marie, who still had plenty to do when he cut in from the right.
With Louis Corrigan for company, Marie managed to squeeze a shot under the left back's attempted sliding tackle, the shot seeming to deceive Forth and finding the bottom corner.
Marie was then instrumental in Glossop doubling their lead 10 minutes later. Again cutting in from the right flank, he fired in a shot that was heading for the top corner like a laser beam, but Forth pulled off a top-class save, flying to his right to palm the ball around the post at full stretch.
It would be a mere stay of execution though, as from the resulting corner the ball was allowed to drop in the Linnets area and was forced home by Peter Boyle from eight yards out.
The closest Runcorn came in the remainder of the first half was when Glossop's goalkeeper made a smart save off Louis Corrigan's deflected free kick.
Freddie Potter had a good chance to grab a goal back at the start of the second half when he found space at the far post but he could only head O'Brien's free kick wide after taking up the type of a position from which he is usually deadly.
With 50 minutes played, a mix-up in the Linnets defence almost let Glossop in to put the game out of reach, but another excellent save by Dylan Forth and a very welcome linesman's flag on the follow up kept the Linnets alive.
Ello rang the changes early, making a pair of substitutions with more than half an hour to play - Ronnie McCarthy and Bobby Evans making way for Josh Dobie and Ryan Gibson, both of whom had performed very well at Hyde in midweek.
The changes made a difference as the Linnets started to assert some control.
Kyle Hamid, who was the star Linnets performer throughout, picked out a sublime through ball into the run of Gibson whose shot was well saved.
Then, in the 82nd minute the Linnets were gifted an unlikely lifeline.
With the danger level minimal, Freddie Potter was shoved over in the penalty area while providing no big threat to Glossop's goal. The referee pointed to the penalty spot without hesitation.
Louis Corrigan did his thing - confidently burying his third penalty in as many games to give the MLS the lift that it desperately needed.
The rain upped its game from a steady fall to a downpour as the clock ticked down, and then went all in with a total monsoon as the game reached injury time.
It could have been the almost blinding downpour that distracted Glossop momentarily, as in the 93rd minute another inch-perfect pass from Kyle Hamid split the Glossop defence down the centre to find Gibson's run.
The local player, recently signed from Helsby, showed great composure to round the goalkeeper and roll the ball into an empty net to spark an eruption of very wet jubilation around the ground.
Make no mistake, we played a get-out-of-jail card very well in this game.
The first half had been the poorest that we have played all season, and while the second half was an improvement we still struggled to create any openings against a well- drilled Glossop rearguard.
But despite that we managed to escape with a point due to the fact that Ello's team never, ever throw in the towel and just refuse to accept defeat.
In football you won't always play well, and after two difficult away games and on a heavy pitch we did look slightly jaded. But the lads' determination to dig deep when the chips are down is an admirable trait to have and will continue to earn us points when all looks lost.
The valuable point keeps Runcorn in pole position of the EVO-STIK Division One West table, although results elsewhere have closed the gap all around.
We now look forward to visiting another new venue this Saturday as we travel down to Staffordshire to take on Chasetown. See you all there!
Runcorn Linnets: Dylan Forth, Louis Corrigan, Aaron Morris, Peter Wylie, Danny O'Brien, Ronnie McCarthy, Bobby Evans, Kyle Hamid (capt), Freddie Potter, Paul Shanley, Kris Holt. Subs: Ryan Gibson, Josh Dobie, Zac Aley. Not used: Kurt Sherlock, Jack Hinnigan.
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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