3rd September 2016, Runcorn Linnets FC v Padiham : 4-2 Sponsored by Tony Jonesby Ste Bignall
The new-look Linnets got their second win under Michael Ellison's guardianship at the MLS on Saturday, coming out winners in a thoroughly entertaining encounter with Padiham.
The torrential rain of Saturday threatened to make this game an attritional affair, but the pitch held up superbly to the demands and neither puddled nor cut up despite the rain being incessant.
Padiham are, of course, managed by former Linnets chargehand and friend of the club Steve Wilkes, and he brought with him some new signings made in the week.
These included Kenny Taylor of the Colne's NWCL championship-winning side from last season, and the very imposing figure of James Dean up front, a signing that certainly raised some eyebrows considering that we was very recently plying his trade at a much higher level of the non-league game.
It was Padiham, who opened the scoring within two minutes. A cross came in from the right and although the initial shot was half-cleared, it fell straight to Harry Dunn who returned the ball, via a deflection, past Tom Hunt from just outside the box.
This could easily have rattled Ello's men but they calmly kept to the game plan and set about getting on level terms. Paul Shanley had a rasping shot saved before being heavily involved in the equaliser. A great through ball by Ronnie McCarthy was picked up by Shanley, who had cut into the box on the left side.
Although Shanley's shot was saved, Mark Houghton was on hand to overhead kick the ball into the empty net, under pressure from Padiham's defenders, on nine minutes. Four minutes later and the home side took the lead via a sublime goal that built up with one touch passes from the halfway line between Hamid, McCarthy and Shanley.
Hamid eventually picked the ball up with his back to goal outside the box before swivelling on the spot and sending a curling effort across the path of the 'keeper and into the far corner. It was a goal right out of the top drawer!
A frantic opening 15 minutes was rounded off shirtly after when Mark Houghton scored his second and Linnets third, coolly sweeping in the rebound from Anthony Donaldson's initial shot.
Tom Hunt made a good save after a shot from distance with the rebound scrambled clear by Chris Lawton before Padiham were gifted an avenue back into the game.
Aaron Morris attempted a back pass to Hunt that lacked the required power and Alex Murphy nipped in to roll the ball under the advancing 'keeper to make the scoreline 3-2.
Padiham had a great chance to equalise just before half-time when Taylor got in behind the Linnets back four and a ball across to the unmarked Dean would have produced a goal, but Taylor chose to shoot from a tight angle and the shot went just wide.
Unfortunately in doing so Taylor turned heavily on his ankle and ended up leaving the ground on a stretcher. Thankfully, an X-Ray dismissed the early fears of a break, and everyone at Linnets hopes that Kenny is back playing as soon as possible.
Padiham rallied at the start of the second half and it took a good save from Hunt off Dean's close-range shot and fantastic back tracking by Bev Burey, again snuffing out Dean's follow-up shot at the crucial moment.
Seemingly not content to just seeing the game out, Ellison made a double attacking change midway through the second half, Burey and Donaldson being replaced by Anthony Hickey and Steve Foster.
Foster was very effective in holding the ball up in the right areas and taking some of the pace out of the game, and he scored Linnets fourth and decisive goal.
Laying the ball off to Hamid before continuing his run towards the box Fozzie met Hamid's stunning 50-yard crossfield ball perfectly to half volley into the top corner from outside the penalty area on 72 minutes for another high-quality Linnets goal.
The final incident of note was Padiham's main threat,Dean receiving a second yellow card for an elbow on Hamid, and this ended the game as a contest as a tired Padiham ran out of ideas and Linnets saw the game out with no further trouble to record an excellent home win!
Runcorn Linnets: Tom Hunt, Danny McKenna, Chris Lawton, Aaron Morris, Danny O'Brien, Ronnie McCarthy, Tony Donaldson, Kyle Hamid, Mark Houghton, Paul Shanley, Bevan Burey. Subs: Steve Foster, Antony Hickey. Not used: Adam Wade, Sean Carlson, Vita Mbdokele.
NB. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Runcorn Linnets FC or its Board.