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20th October 2018, Prescot Cables v Runcorn Linnets FC : 2-1

by Ste Bignall

SATURDAY'S biggest crowd in the country for a Step 4 game packed into Volair Park to witness the eagerly-anticipated top-of-the-table clash between Prescot Cables and Runcorn Linnets

Fans of both clubs, and likewise the neutrals in attendance,† would have struggled to get better value for their £8 gate money anywhere.

They witnessed a game that had absolutely everything and was played in a great atmosphere from the terraces.

Unfortunately though for Linnets, a couple of rushes of blood to usually composed heads meant that, despite a monumental effort after two first-half dismissals, the visitors left empty-handed.†

While getting players to peak fitness is still a work in progress for Michael Ellison, the availability is improving and Ello was able to keep an unchanged side from that which had come home from Colne with a 1-6 victory a week earlier.

The start couldn't have been any better for the away side. In just the second minute, Linnets won a free-kick to the left of the Prescot penalty area and with everyone anticipating a cross, Danny O'Brien had other ideas and fizzed a low shot into the near post. It caught the goalkeeper off guard and sneaked in to give his side the lead.

With the game settling down and Linnets looking comfortable, a key moment arrived on 13 minutes. Freddie Potter got himself involved in an altercation with Cables' captain, who had caught Potter from behind.

And with the match official only yards away, Potter retaliated with a shove and as soon as the whistle blew, a red card was inevitable.†

It was a very rare and out-of-character†loss of composure from one of our most reliable players.

For the next half hour, Prescot had a lot of the ball as Linnets backed off and played a containing game by banking up while looking to pick out the pace of Shanley or McCarthy whenever possible.†

Cables had a couple of efforts from outside the penalty area but nothing that threatened Dylan Forth's goal.

Had we held out for just another two minutes, this game could have had a different outcome, but disaster struck in the 43rd minute.†

A focused spell of Cables pressure resulted in two low shots across goal that were blocked in the six-yard box, but the ball was then forced goalwards and struck the arm of Mike Simpson, who was adjudged to have kept the ball out of the goal.†

The ball hitting Simmo's arm is without refute, but there is an argument that he was standing well behind the goal line when it happened and should not have received any punishment other than a Cables equaliser.†

But the decision was a penalty kick and another straight red card. Christopher Almond sent Dylan Forth the wrong way with his spot kick to draw his side level.

Before half-time, both sides had a good chance to take a lead.

Firstly, Dylan Forth produced a stunning save from a fierce Cables effort on goal, followed by Connor McCarthy having a good chance to put the Linnets back in front.

Set up by Paul Shanley, McCarthy could only help the ball over the crossbar.

Despite Prescot having an early goal ruled out for offside, it was actually Runcorn who created the better chances in the opening quarter of the second half.†

Connor McCarthy did well to hold the ball in the penalty area and tee up Kris Holt to shoot wide. Holt then went closest to restoring the Linnets lead when he drew the goalkeeper off his line, took the ball past him but was crowded out in a mass of bodies before being able to finish the job.

From the 65th minute onwards, the Linnets understandably started to tire and Prescot took a strong hold of the game.†

Louis Corrigan was on hand to scoop an effort off the goal line with 15 minutes remaining and you did just start to feel like he and his team-mates might be able to hold on.†

The Linnets' rearguard were doing an excellent job in limiting Cables to long-range efforts and set pieces.

However, with only 10 minutes remaining, the Linnets resilience was finally broken. It was a good move by Cables, working the ball out from defence and then switching from left to right.†

A cross to the far post was headed away from goal by Peter Wylie but, with Cables having two men over at the far post, the Runcorn centre back was unlucky to see the ball land at the feet of Michael Monaghan.

A low curling effort clipped the knee of Danny O'Brien and found the far bottom corner.

Michael Ellison is never one to throw in the towel and he brought on Kurt Sherlock and Zac Aley to try to salvage a point. But the rest of his men were now running on empty and with Prescot knowing they just had to see out the remaining time, it was too big an ask for Runcorn to nick an equaliser.

The scenes at full time told the full story. Prescot were rightfully overjoyed with their win while the Linnets were crestfallen.†

The nine men had battled gallantly from the 43rd minute and should take great pride from the fact that it took a good side until the 80th minute to break through.†

Despite the defeat, the Linnets still sit at the top of the EVO-STIK League West Division table and have come through a testing run of away fixtures remarkably well.†

They will head into November having already played eight away games in the league, and only four at home.

With no game for the Linnets this Saturday, the next game is at home to Vauxhall Motors in the Cheshire Senior Cup on Tuesday, October 30th. Kick off at the Millbank Linnets Stadium is at 7.45pm.

Runcorn Linnets: Dylan Forth, Louis Corrigan, Aaron Morris, Peter Wylie, Danny O'Brien, Michael Simpson, Kristian Holt, Kyle Hamid (capt), Freddie Potter, Connor McCarthy, Paul Shanley. Subs: Kurt Sherlock, Zac Aley. Not used: Bobby Evans, Niall Watson, Kieran Nolan.

Attendance: 743.

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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