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27th August 2018, Skelmersdale United v Runcorn Linnets FC : 1-3

A depleted Runcorn Linnets side made it two wins from their first three games in the EVO-STIK Division One West.

Paul Shanley gave a standout performance as a makeshift central striker with attacking resources stretched to breaking point by injuries and unavailability.

Both sides had gone into the game on the back of weekend FA Cup disappointments with Bank Holiday Monday's game at Prescot providing both with an early chance to hit back.

In an an times frantic affair, Linnets had to survive a late barrage of pressure before a penalty finally put paid to their hosts, who remain without a win.

There has been a long-standing revolving exchange of players between these two clubs and the match saw ex Linnets Terry Smith, Jack Fleming and Tom Molyneux in determined form for Skem. 

But Runcorn's Louis Corrigan, Michael Simpson and Ronnie McCarthy ultimately came out on top in the old boys' reunion.

With Shanley moving into the middle of the front line Michael Ellison handed a first start to Niall Watson, the 18-year-old prospect, who is on loan from Accrington Stanley.

Although starved of possession at times, the youngster did well with some clearing runs and a couple of superb crosses.

Whilst the first half was a fairly even, affair Linnets had a bigger share of the chances. 

In the 6th minute Shanley headed over a Kris Holt cross.  Kyle Hamid promptly headed over a great cross from Corrigan.

It was the 17th minute before Skem had a chance, Dylan Forth with a smart save from an Ennis shot. 

Soon after, Simpson tried one of his long drives, this one just over.

Louis Corrigan unleashed a great shot from the corner of the penalty area in the 20th minute, but Terry Smith was equal to it.

Kev Edgar was a handful throughout and he forced a desperate save from Forth on 24.  After tipping the shot onto the post, the 'keeper was able to scramble back to pick up the rebound.

Late in the half, Shanley and Fleming clashed in an aerial challenge, the knockdown fell to Hamid who shot just wide.

Unfortunately, Fleming was injured in the collision and had to be replaced by McConville.

Linnets went one up on the stroke of half time, Holt cutting into the penalty area to drive in a cross shot in that deflected in off Callum Woods. 

Skem looked to respond instantly in the second half as a mistake by Forth saw Edgar collect but the striker saw two efforts blocked in a matter of seconds.

The blocks were pivotal as five minutes later, Linnets doubled their lead with Paul Shanley heading past Smith for 2-0.

The home team's main threats stemmed from Dunne as he forced blocks in both the 55th and 60th minutes, before providing a lifeline on 72 minutes.

His long-range free kick met the head of Roddy, who headed over Forth from close range to halve the deficit at 2-1.

Skem had the momentum in the final 10 minutes with chances aplenty,

Dunne's low shot was cleared off the line by Danny O'Brien before Forth's stunning save minutes later denied Dunne from scoring what would have been a well-deserved equaliser.

Mooney's far post header crept over the bar from Dunne's cross before Edgar was denied by strong defence by substitute Declan Gallagher.

The final minutes of added time saw Runcorn wrap up the points as a counter attack resulted in Shanley rounding Smith with the 'keeper adjudged to have clipped him, leading to a penalty being awarded.

Corrigan stepped up to fire past Smith. Runcorn Linnets: Forth, Wylie, O'Brien, Morris, Corrigan, Nolan (McCarthy, 72), Simpson, Hamid ©, Shanley, Watson (Gallagher, 87), Holt (Evans, 76). Sub not used- Collings 

Attendance: 205

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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