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13th September 2016, Runcorn Linnets FC v 1874 Northwich : 1-1 Sponsored by Linnet Forever

by Dave Bettley

Runcorn Linnets salvaged their unbeaten record against 1874 Northwich by coming from behind to draw 1-1 with their 10-man visitors.

Veteran striker Steve Foster came off the bench to lash home a 71st-equaliser into the roof of the net.

The result was a fair reflection overall.

1874 had done well to recover from the 28th-minute dismissal of influential midfieldman and former captain, Neil Chappell for a late tackle on Chris Lawton.

Mark Houghton, skippering the hosts in the absence of Kyle Hamid, went closest before the break after 1874 had seen an early 'goal' chalked off for offside.

Houghton's 44th-minute effort from one of several good Bevan Burey crosses, on the speedy right winger's recall to the starting line-up, went inches wide with 'keeper Greg Hall struggling to get across.

Runcorn's form dipped upon the restart and a misplaced pass into midfield led to 1874, beaten on their previous two visits to The Millbank Linnets Stadium, going ahead in the 49th minute through Tom Bailey.

The visitors understandably tried to slow down the game but Runcorn's hopes were revived with 19 minutes left. Ronnie McCarthy's long free-kick was knocked down and Foster's predatory instincts again served him well.

Runcorn could even have won it late on, centre back Lawton crashing a header against the woodwork, but 1874 soaked up the pressure.

However, a draw against a team who went top with Tuesday's point shows things are on the up for sixfth-placed Linnets.

They have Hamid up for selection again, after his one-game ban, for Saturday's trip to Barnoldswick Town.

Without their captain, Linnets were not as creative as normal and while he was certainly the busier 'keeper, Northwich's Hall wasn't tested enough.

Adam Wade did his well on his return to the central area while Ronnie McCarthy's ability to break up the play and keep things ticking over is very much in the mould of his manager before him.

Michael Ellison's side have gone seven Hallmark Security League games without defeat.

Their swift recovery from pre-season disarray is of great credit to the new management team of Ellison and assistant Matt Cross along with the players.

They now look a different proposition to the team which lost three and drew one of their first four games in all competitions.

At that point, it didn't look as though the Linnets would be ready quickly enough to compete with a team like 1874 so early in the season. All the more credit to them for doing it, particularly in the absence of Saturday's match winner Antony Hickey.

Another very tough test awaits Runcorn in the next home match against Atherton Colls on Saturday, September 24th.

Runcorn Linnets: Hunt, McKenna, Lawton, Morris, O'Brien, McCarthy, Donaldson (Foster), Wade, Houghton, Shanley, Burey. Subs (not used): Carlson, Mbdokele, Thorpe, Kennerley.

Attendance: 439.

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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