10th December 2016, Runcorn Linnets FC v New Mills : 4-0 Sponsored by The Bignall FamilyBy Ste Bignall
The Linnets returned to winning ways on Saturday afternoon, condemning New Mills to a heavy defeat on only their second visit to the Millbank Linnets Stadium.
The last time the two sides met was in April 2011 at Church Road when an injury-time Carlos Meakin goal all but secured the NWCL title for the Amber Army, who were relegated from the Evo-Stik League at the end of last season.
Kris Holt started in place of Adam Wade in an otherwise unchanged Runcorn starting 11 from the gut-wrenching 2-2 draw with Abbey Hey.
New Mills started the brighter and a looping Danny O'Brien effort that floated just wide with the visiting 'keeper rooted was sandwiched between a series of corners for the away side.
The Miller had a golden opportunity to take the lead when a defensive lapse allowed them an unchallenged run at goal. Luckily for the Linnets, the shot was tame and straight at Tom Hunt.
This stirred the Linnets who went on to dominate from that moment on, limiting New Mills to very little in the way of attacking threat.
Paul Shanley was causing his usual chaos for opposing right backs, and when he squared a low ball to Antony Hickey four yards out, all at the MLS were waiting for the net to ripple. But a stunning point-blank save by New Mills' goalkeeper, Oliver Martin somehow kept the scores level.
It was mid-way through the first half when the scoring began, and in some style! Skipper Kyle Hamid looked confident when stood over a free-kick left of centre outside the box, and he effortlessly beat the wall and 'keeper from 25 yards out with a curling strike.
It was 2-0 soon after, when the home side again had the beating of New Mills on the Runcorn left, Danny McKenna sending a pinpoint cross to the back post. It was just begging to be headed home, and sponsors' man of the match Hickey duly obliged.
Before ha;f-time, Runcorn managed to get the third goal time that had repeatedly eluded them against Abbey Hey a week earlier, a rather straight forward ball over the top setting Hickey clean through on goal - the forward making no mistake to effectively secure the three points with 45 minutes still to play.
Michael Ellison made a change at half-time, replacing front man Brian Matthews with the returning vice captain Mark Houghton.
Mid way through the second half, it was 4-0 when New Mills couldn't clear a corner and Kris Holt rattled home the loose ball from 12 yards.
Holt is starting to make a habit of popping up out of nowhere to bag himself a goal, and long may it continue!
There were a further couple of half chances at either end but the score remained at 4-0. The home crowd and team were delighted with the performance, result and clean sheet after a few weeks of uncomfortable results and an excessive amount of goals conceded.
We now move on to Nelson away next Saturday afternoon, a fixture that has had a significant telling impact on our previous two title charges. So no doubt Ello will be looking to make amends.
Runcorn Linnets: Tom Hunt, Danny McKenna, Chris Lawton, Aaron Morris, Danny O'Brien, Ronnie McCarthy, Kris Holt, Brian Matthews, Paul Shanley, Antony Hickey. Subs: Mark Houghton, Jay Roberts, Steve Foster. Not used: Stuart Wellstead, Zac Aley.
NB. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Runcorn Linnets FC or its Board.