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23rd February 2019, Runcorn Linnets FC v Mossley AFC : 2-2 Sponsored by In memory of Harry Thompson

By Ste Bignall

A fantastic crowd of 478 made the Millbank Linnets Stadium their entertainment venue of choice on Saturday, and they were well rewarded with an engrossing match between the teams lying second and fourth in the EVO-STIK League West Division at kick-off time.

The big team news of the day came in the Runcorn goal where Matt Holmes was replaced by new signing from Wigan Athletic Jordan Perrin.

Matt Holmes has since confirmed that he has now sadly left the club. I'm certain everyone reading this will join me in thanking Matt profusely for the huge part he played in our title-winning season, the loyalty and patience he showed us when trying to get back into the team, but more than anything his fantastic attitude around the club in general - including many singing sessions with the Left Side Ultras, who adopted Matt as one of their own.

The opening half hour of the game was a bit of a non-event, a Louis Corrigan free kick that cleared the crossbar and an excellent piece of defending by Danny O'Brien with two quickfire tackles was as much as we had in terms of goalmouth action.

Mossley fired a warning shot in the 33rd minute when a free header from a corner hit the post before being cleared, although an unexpected flag raised by the linesman would have ruled out a goal anyway.

But just a minute later, the visitors did take the lead with a well-taken goal. Mossley's danger man Max Leonard picked up the ball in a central area, jinked his way past a couple of challenges as he drove straight into the heart of the Linnets penalty area before finishing into the bottom corner from 12 yards out - giving new goalkeeper Perrin no chance.

The first half had been a bit of a midfield battle with a lack of cutting edge, but Mossley just about deserved their lead. However, the second half was action packed from start to finish!

Danny O'Brien was replaced at half time for youngster Frank Jones, Jones taking up a central defensive role and Pete Wylie moving out to right back.

Zac Aley set up Kurt Sherlock with a whipped-in cross in the first minute of the second half but Kurt's header didn't threaten the imposing Josh Ollerenshaw in Mossley's goal.

On 55 minutes, Runcorn deservedly drew level with a well-taken goal of their own. Kurt Sherlock had the ball on the right wing and threaded an inch-perfect pass into the run of Paul Shanley, who rounded Ollerenshaw with his first touch, composed himself and slid the ball into the empty net.

Jordan Perrin showed the Runcorn faithful a glimpse of what he is capable of with a very smart save from a Mossley free kick, getting down quickly to hold the low shot with bodies charging towards him, looking for a loose rebound.

A free kick at the other end led to the Linnets going in front on the hour.

Kurt Sherlock's direct effort took a deflection on its way through the wall, completely wrong footing Ollerenshaw and finding the bottom corner of the net.

Unfortunately, Runcorn weren't able to cement their lead and settle the play down as Mossley were back on level terms within five minutes.

A big and strong side in all areas, Mossley had been a threat from set pieces all afternoon. And when a corner kick was headed towards Runcorn goal, Perrin was beaten, but Louis Corrigan kept the ball out with his arm and was shown a straight red card with a penalty kick awarded to the visitors.

Max Leonard's penalty was almost kept out by Perrin, but the ball squirmed under the goalkeeper's body and spun over the line to level the scores at 2-2 with the Linnets now a man down.

Despite the disadvantage, Runcorn came closest to winning the game, never settling for the draw. Kurt Sherlock went close with a header from Paul Shanley's cross, and soon after, Ollerenshaw made a fantastic save to deny Shanley what looked like a certain goal.

Shanley had his back to goal inside the penalty area but managed to turn on the spot and fire a shot towards the bottom corner. But Ollerenshaw saved at full stretch low to his right.

Ryan Gibson and Mitch Bryant were thrown into the fray by Michael Ellison as the game headed towards full time but there would be no further threat to either goal and the draw was a fair result given the balance of play.

The point keeps us in second place. Top-of- the-pile Atherton Collieries also drew their game at Prescot Cables, meaning the distance between Colls and Linnets remains at four points.

We move now into what will be a thrilling final 10 games of the season, with plenty of twists and turns still to come!

Runcorn Linnets: Jordan Perrin, Louis Corrigan, Aaron Morris, Peter Wylie, Danny O'Brien, Ronnie McCarthy, Kris Holt, Zac Aley, Paul Shanley, Liam O'Neill, Kurt Sherlock. Subs: Frank Jones, Ryan Gibson, Mitch Bryant. Not used: Bobby Evans, Josth Dobie.

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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