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22nd December 2018, Runcorn Linnets FC v Droylsden : 0-4 Sponsored by George and Paul Coward in memory of Ros

by Ste Bignall

Droylsden became the first EVO-STIK League West Division club to complete a home and away double over Runcorn Linnets with a thumping 0-4 victory at the Millbank Linnets Stadium on Saturday, making their tally against us eight goals scored in two games.

The Greater Manchester club also take the accolade of ending Runcorn's unbeaten home league record this season.

A first half hat-trick from Liam Caddick put the match out of the Linnets' reach, but the highly-impressive and imposing striker Sefton Gonzales was the outstanding performer for the Bloods.

There had been a great deal of surprise to see both Ryan Gibson and Kurt Sherlock in the Linnets' starting eleven, both players having ended up in hospital after last week's bludgeoning affair at Chasetown.

It's also a likely indicator of the difficulty that Michael Ellison is facing at the moment with a squad struggling badly with injuries.

Runcorn never got off the ground in this game and found themselves 0-2 down after only 10 minutes. Ello will be asking some questions of his defence as the opening two goals could not have been simpler for Caddick, who twice found himself unmarked at the far post with time to control the ball and score from close range.

Droylsden were in full control of the opening half hour and scored their third goal with 31 minutes played. A ball into the box was aimed towards Gonzales and his downward header fell perfectly into the path of Caddick, who hit a first-time volley through a crowd of bodies and into the bottom corner to stun most of the almost 400-strong crowd.

The Linnets did finally find some rhythm towards the end of the first half, with the most likely threat coming from the pace of Ryan Gibson. Kyle Hamid almost got a goal back just before half-time after being set up by Gibson but his shot from outside the box was deflected inches wide of the top corner.

The second half was better for Runcorn, who came out on the front foot - trying desperately to get themselves back into the game. But no matter what was thrown at Droylsden, a combination of resolute defending by the away side and some Christmas bad luck for the Linnets kept the hosts at bay.

Louis Corrigan almost gave his team a lifeline on 49 minutes when a swirling free kick drew an acrobatic save out of Bloods goalkeeper Chris Thompson, despite him looking beaten by the flight of the ball. The rebound was headed wide with the goal gaping.

Freddie Potter did manage to get the ball into the Droylsden net with a very good finish but an offside flag reeulting from a tight call added further frustration to proceedings.

A six-minute spell midway through the second half threatened to make the scoreline embarrassing for Runcorn, but Dylan Forth pulled off three outstanding saves when left totally exposed by his defence to keep his side in with the faintest of shouts.

Liam Caddick (remember him from the first half), will have been particularly disappointed as he should have scored a rare fourth goal when a quick passing move carved the Linnets defence wide open. This left Caddick with a clear run at goal from 18 yards out, but Dylan's block was excellent.

In the 65th minute, a crazy goalmouth scramble ensued on the Droylsden goal line. A combination of save, crossbar, goal line block one and goal line block two (before a sliced clearance) rammed home the feeling that this just wasn't going to be our day.

With four minutes remaining, and Runcorn resigned to the rare taste of a home defeat, Droylsden scored a fourth, and what a goal it was.

Domaine Rouse picked up the ball with his back to goal outside the Linnets penalty area, and on the turn fired in a strike that flew over the stranded Dylan Forth and nestled snugly into the top corner to seal a very impressive performance from Droylsden. Many Runcorn fans were scratching their heads as to how the team we were watching tear us open find themselves towards the bottom end of the league table.

We've said it several times already this season, and most recently after the previous home game,, against Glossop North End, but league table positions mean very little about the quality of any side on any given day at this level.

We have witnessed first hand how anyone can and will turn you over if you're not at your very best week, in week out.

We now have a couple of Christmas fixtures to look forward to, and both have had changes for fans to be aware of.

Firstly our Boxing Day 'El Clasitoll' derby against Widnes has had its venue changed from the Select Security Stadium in Widnes to The Offside Trust Stadium, the home of familiar opponents, Barnton FC.

And on New Year's Day, we were due to host Skelmersdale United at the Millbank Linnets Stadium. However, this fixture has been brought forward to Saturday, December 29th (ko 3pm).

That just leaves me to wish all of our players, coaching/management staff, Board members, volunteers and supporters both near and far, a very Happy Christmas. See you all on Boxing Day!

Runcorn Linnets: Dylan Forth, Louis Corrigan, Aaron Morris, Peter Wylie, Matt Russell, Josh Dobie, Kurt Sherlock, Kyle Hamid (capt), Freddie Potter, Ryan Gibson. Zac Aley. Subs: Paul Shanley, Kris Holt. Not used: Danny O'Brien, Ronnie McCarthy, Michael Simpson.

Attendance: 389.

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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