7th September 2019, Runcorn Linnets FC v Workington : 1-1 Sponsored by Paul Curran in memory of Mandy
Linnets took on the early-season league pacesetters on Saturday as Workington visited The Millbank.
It was the Cumbrians' first competitive outing to the town since they played Runcorn AFC at Canal Street 38 years ago, also in a Northern Premier League fixture.
Jamie Rainford was welcomed back into the hosts' starting eleven but sadly made a quick exit as he fell to an injury midway through the first half.
There were two notable absentees from the Linnets starting lineup, both Paul Shanley and the practically ever present Louis Corrigan both missing out through injury.
Runcorn started the game well, Rainford and Connor McCarthy looking highly effective as an attacking duo.
Rainford came close to opening the scoring with a couple of efforts in the 12th and 13th minutes - firstly crowning a mazy run into the box with a snapshot, well saved by the unsighted Workington goalkeeper.
Jamie should then have broken the deadlock when Connor McCarthy sent him racing through on goal but the shot was pulled across goal and wide.
However, on 15 minutes, Runcorn did take a deserved lead and in spectacular fashion! Showing great determintion in midfield, they won the ball back from Workington and fed in Connor McCarthy, who collected with his back to goal 30 yards out, turning to fire the ball straight over the 'keeper, who had strayed from his line, and into the net for an early goal-of-the-season contender.
Linnets' August Player of the Month, Bayleigh Passant took his great early season form into this game and thwarted Workington a number of times after the Linnets had taken the lead.
But he was helpless to prevent the equaliser on 33 minutes. Michael Ellison will have been cursing the simplicity of the goal, as a corner was swung in, flicked on at the near post and bundled in at the opposite post by Sam Smith.
Shortly before Workington's equaliser Jamie Rainford was replaced by midfielder Ronnie McCarthy, this leaving Ronnie's brother Connor isolated when ever the Linnets broke forward.
Workington had more of the play in the second half but came up against a sturdy Linnets defensive unit.
Right back Ally Brown was the next player to be withdrawn through injury, meaning a big chunk of Ello's squad is now on the treatment table instead of the pitch.
On 57 minutes, Harry Cannon-Noren came agonisingly close to putting Runcorn back into the lead.
Cutting in from the left wing, he sent a curling shot across goal to lleave the goalkeeper rooted to the spot but the effort fell marginally on the wrong side of the goal post.
Workington should have gone ahead in the 66th minute when they broke away at pace on the right wing and a low cross found an unmarked player eight yards from goal. Luckily, the ball was blazed over the crossbar with the goal begging.
The visitors had a few half chances to take all three points and drew a stunning save from Passant with 10 minutes remaining. With everyone expecting a cross, a low shot was drilled in at the near post but Passant turned it behind for a corner with a flying save.
A late header over the bar by Workington drew a very entertaining and competitive game to a close, a point each being without question the right outcome.
Runcorn Linnets: 1 B Passant, 2 Z Aley, 3 P Wylie, 4 N Ryan, 5 A Brown, 6 H Cannon-Noren, 7 R Gibson, 8 K Hamid, 9 J Rainford, 10 R Wade, 11 C McCarthy. Subs: 12 W Bellew, 14 R McCarthy, 15 L Coyne. Not used: 16 K Sherlock, 17 D McGivern.
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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