6th October 2018, Kendal Town v Runcorn Linnets FC : 1-2
Runcorn Linnets made the picturesque journey north to Kendal Town on Saturday - and while a team, ravaged by unavailability, didn't reach the performance levels to which we have become accustomed, they did show an equally impressive side to their game.
They dug deeply, clearly determined to leave the Lake District with all three points.
Kendal's ST@B Accountants Stadium is a historic non-league venue with character in every corner.
You can see and feel how the ground has developed over the years while maintaining its charm.
With Paul Shanley suspended and Freddie Potter struggling with an injury, Michael Ellison once again made enforced changes.
Niall Watson and Michael Simpson returned to the starting eleven but Ello's job got even more difficult when Watson had to be withdrawn through injury after 15 minutes, Adam Gilchrist coming on in his place.
Kendal were the better side in the opening half an hour. Kicking up the slope and adapting better to the slow and sticky playing surface, the hosts worked their way into a number of dangerous positions. But thankfully for the Linnets, Kendal had left their shooting boots in the changing rooms as a number of attempts at goal went high and wide.
They did go close at one point when Danny O'Brien got the ball stuck under his foot and lost out in a tackle on the left wing. With the Linnets caught out by the pacey counter attack, a fierce strike at goal was superbly tipped around a post by Dylan Forth.
Linnets were struggling to get themselves into the game, with passes not finding the intended target and Connor McCarthy finding himself isolated in attack.
We did force a couple of openings when Connor McCarthy beat his man but couldn't get a shot away before being tackled and Kris Holt directed a header goalwards but the goalkeeper was well positioned to make a comfortable save.
Early in the second half, the Linnets were gifted the opening goal. Under moderate pressure from McCarthy's tireless running, the Mintcakes defender Gavin Clarke played a pass back to Stu Dixon.
The goalkeeper took an air shot at the ball and as it went past him, McCarthy accepted the simplest goal he will ever score from a yard out with an open net.
Having not played particularly well up to this point but defended resolutely, there was a feeling among the travelling Linnets supporters that if we could hang on to this tight lead it would be a fantastic three points earned.
But barely a minute later, Kendal were level. Aaron Morris, who otherwise had an excellent game from start to finish, misjudged his clearance of a low cross into the box with the ball falling perfectly for Scott Harries to drill in Kendal's equaliser from 10 yards out.
With 40 minutes of the game still to be played, Kendal seemed content with a point and focused on shutting Runcorn out.
The Linnets started to control the play and possession but struggled to grind out a clear sight of goal. Louis Corrigan put a free-kick over the bar from a good position while Kris Holt had a fierce strike at goal blocked by a sliding tackle.
With 79 minutes played, the golden opportunity finally came for Runcorn.
Yet again it was Connor McCarthy leading the Linnets forward charge and, after forcing his way into the penalty area, he was brought down for a clear penalty.
Danny O'Brien resumed his role as Linnets penalty taker and coolly sent the 'keeper the wrong way in finding the top left corner with his spot-kick.
This time, there would be no mistakes in protecting the lead. But Kendal tried to salvage something and almost got another equaliser with five minutes remaining.
With the Linnets penalty area packed, a cross from the left was volleyed towards goal and with Forth beaten, Morris atoned for his earlier error by bravely heading the perfectly-struck volley over the crossbar and out for a corner - genuine goal-saving defending.
With no further scares, the Linnets played out the four minutes injury time to secure a really dogged victory.
This win will have pleased Ello immensely. Under his tenure as manager, it's been very rare that we just don't play well in a game but more often than not when it has happened we have lost matches.
At Kendal we didn't play well, created very few chances yet came away with a victory and 3 points. That's a fantastic trait to have in the locker and call upon when required.
After a pretty relentless run of fixtures lately, we now get a week's rest before another very difficult fixture away at title contenders Colne.
Hopefully the break will help the Linnets players recharge their batteries and allow a few of the absentees time to recover from injury.
Victory dug out at Kendal kept us top of the EVO-STIK League West table after 10 games!
Runcorn Linnets Ladies:Dylan Forth, Louis Corrigan, Aaron Morris, Peter Wylie, Danny O'Brien, Kieran Nolan, Michael Simpson, Kyle Hamid, Connor McCarthy, Niall Watson, Kristian Holt. Subs: Adam Gilchrist, Bobby Evans. Not used: Josh Dobie, Matt Holmes (GK), Freddie Potter.
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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