10th January 2017, Runcorn Linnets FC v Nantwich Town FC : 1-2By Ste Bignall
The Linnets made a swift exit from their only remaining cup competition on Tuesday night, but it was a spirited defeat.
They gave Evo-Stik League Premier Division visitors Nantwich Town a real run for their money and may feel unlucky to have lost this Cheshire Senior Cup fixture.
It was a heavily-changed line-up for the hosts, new goalkeeper Matt Holmes turning in a highly-assured display in place of the suspended Tom Hunt.
Zac Aley took the place of Chris Lawton in the heart of defence, Adam Wade and Steve Foster made their first starts for a number of weeks, and there was a very impressive debut for 18-year-old Luke Griffiths having recently signed from League 1 club, Bolton Wanderers.
The Linnets took the initiative from the outset and hit the crossbar early on. However, while Linnets were applying the pressure on the Nantwich goal, the visitors broke away at pace on the counter attack and took the lead through their man of the match Joe Mwasile after seven minutes.
Undeterred by the setback, Michael Ellison's men set about grabbing an equaliser and came very close when Paul Shanley's dipping shot was spectacularly tipped onto the bar by the Dabbers' young goalkeeper, Reece Quinn.
The Linnets got closer still on the stroke of half-time when Nantwich couldn't clear a corner and Stu Wellstead's shot was cleared off the goal line.
Nantwich came out stronger after the break and gave the Linnets back four a really tough time for the first 25 minutes of the second half. They doubled their advantage while on top in the game, something the Linnets have been guilty of not doing themselves lately.
A 50th-minute ball over the top found Steve Jones in oceans of space and he was able to volley an excellent finish past Holmes to put the visitors 0-2 up.
This stirred the Linnets again, They gave their all to get back into the game, - halving the deficit when Shanley picked up a loose ball and fed a pass into Steve Foster, who toe-poked a finish into the bottom corner with 73 minutes gone.
The closest Runcorn came to the equaliser was when Mike Simpson's shot from the edge of the area was deflected away from the goalkeeper, who had already committed himself. But Quinn acrobatically scrambled across his goal to claw the spinning ball off the goal line.
There was an unfortunate injury in the 85th minute to full-back Danny McKenna who was barged over when trying to shield the ball out of play.
He was escorted around the pitch after lengthy treatmernt but trudged down the players' tunnel, clutching his shoulder and looking in considerable pain. Fingers crossed it's not as serious as it first looked.
The Linnets ended the game with 10 men, all subs having been used, and Nantwich were able to see the victory out. They will look forward to finding out their opponents in the next round.
Runcorn Linnets: Matthew Holmes, Danny McKenna, Zac Aley, Aaron Morris, Michael Simpson, Adam Wade, Luke Griffiths, Kyle Hamid, Steve Foster, Paul Shanley, Stuart Wellstead. Subs: Mark Houghton, Paul Jewell, Danny O'Brien. Not used: Chris Lawton, Matt Cross.
Nantwich Town: Reece Quinn, Joel Stair, Ibou Touray, Ben Harrison, Curtis Jones, Sam Hall, Joe Mwasile, Wayne Riley, Theo Stair, Steve Jones, Psebi Adadaki. Subs: Josh Hancock, Ryan Brooke, Cal Jones.Not used: Danny Griggs.
NB. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Runcorn Linnets FC or its Board.