The Northern Premier League

20th July 2022, Euxton Villa v Runcorn Linnets FC : 1-0

Any pre-season is a learning curve but this is particularly the case with a new manager, changed squad and a different system.

After Saturday's 2-2 draw at Stockport Town, Runcorn for their second pre-season match againvisited Step 6 opposition in legendary Linnet Matt Atherton's Euxton Villa.

As is only to be expected at this stage of their preparations, there is still work to be done in terms of fitness and cohesion.

Manager Dave Wild's post-match appraisal was to the point:

"Poor performance, woeful result - but with very heavy legs after a lot of loading in the last 2 weeks.

"I'd rather lose and have things to work on than win every game in summer and it be false."

In what has become a regular pre-cursor fixture to the competitive campaign, the Linnets had plenty of the play.

But they couldn't create the number and quality of chances they would have wanted and the focus over the coming matches will be on finding a way to bring their front men into play more effectively.

Various permutations, in terms of both personnel and formations, were adopted during a game with roll-on, roll-off substitutions but Linnets couldn't quite come up with the correct answer.

After missing the weekend opener, boss Wild will be 90 minutes closer to a solution.

Euxton traditionally give a good account of themselves in these games and this fourth successive close season meeting was no exception.

Having tasted defeat for the first time last season, they were obviously keen to strike back - even more so with their elevation from the West Lancshire League to the North West Counties League.

They snatched victory with a goal after the break from Nathan Parish, whose rebound effort found its way past newcomer Danny Taberner.

Taverner had substituted for Andy Coughlin, having recently left Atherton Colls after 134 games in his three spells.

This wasn't Taberner's first Linnets appearance, however.

In January 2020, he had answered an emergency call to play for us when we were "in between 'keepers" after Michael Emery's departure to Rylands.

With incoming Craig Ellison unavailable, Taberner filled in for a home game against Ossett United, helping Linnets to a 2-1 Northern Premier League win.

Taberner again showed his capabilities on returning to the club, making some smart saves.

His arrival will spark an interesting battle for the No1 shirt.

On a largely disappointing night, it was good to see newly-appointed Sean O'Mahony, who had missed the weekend's game due back in the Runcorn colours after his summer holidays.

Similarly, player-assistant manager Jamie Rainford got his first runout, albeit a cameo.

Linnets now look forward to a first home outing under Dave Wild on Saturday (July 23rd).

This coincidentally also involves his predecessor Calum McIntyre as manager of Vanarama National League North visitors Chester.

Supporters are reminded of the later 5.15pm kick-off.

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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