12th October 2019, Trafford v Runcorn Linnets FC : 0-3
Runcorn Linnets' first away win of the season was secured in fine style on Saturday with a convincing victory and an excellent performance in the Buildbase FA Trophy Preliminary Round.
Ello rang the changes for this game with Richie Mottram making his first appearance of the season in goal while Tom Owens and Josh Dobie were brought into the centre of midfield. Jack Hinnigan kept his place in the centre of defence alongside the returning Peter Wylie.
On what is widely regarded as the best pitch in the league, showing no ill effects whatsoever after the horrendous recent weather, Runcorn started the game well and never let up throughout.
Zac Aley should have opened the scoring with just three minutes played when he got on the end of Ally Brown's cross but could only force the ball over the bar from a couple of yards out.
However, the opening goal was only around the corner and it was a very well-worked Linnets move.
Ally Brown switched the play from right to left, picking out the run of fellow full back Louis Corrigan. After neat interplay with Zac Aley, Louis whipped in a dream of a cross. It was met by Kurt Sherlock who flicked the ball into the bottom corner after getting a run across his marker.
Having fallen behind, Trafford had a spell of possession without threatening Mottram's goal. The closest the home side came in the first half was heading over the crossbar from a corner.
In the 34th minute, Trafford did score a goal, albeit in the wrong net.
Kurt Sherlock was proving hard to handle for Trafford and his sharp turn and cross in the penalty area seemed to completely befuddle Sam Baird, who got caught between a rock and a hard place when trying to clear the danger. He ended up turning the ball into his own goal.
Trafford put the pressure on early in the second half, Lou Corrigan doing well to head clear a dangerous cross into the six- yard box.
But Runcorn soon got a foothold back in the game with Ryan Gibson and Jamie Rainford both going close with efforts on goal.
In the 57th minute, Richie Mottram showed the travelling Linnets that he's still every bit a quality goalkeeper by getting down low to tip a curling shot around the far post at full stretch. He followed up by taking a clean catch from the resulting corner kick.
Ally Brown, outstanding all afternoon against his former club, teed up Ryan Gibson in the 58th minute, Gibbo's rising shot drawing a fine save from Trafford's goalkeeper.
In the 62nd minute, the Linnets scored their third and decisive goal.
Zac Aley and Ryan Gibson reacted quickly as Trafford took their eyes off a seemingly harmless throw in. Zac's long chuck set Gibbo racing away into Trafford's penalty area and he squared for Jamie Rainford to take a touch before drilling the ball through the legs of a defender and into the far bottom corner.
Trafford's Baird went very close to scoring what would have been a very rare and undeserved brace of own goals in the 69th minute, almost deflecting Alley Brown's cross past the goalkeeper. The spin of the ball spared his blushes.
Another outstanding performer for Runcorn on the day was Ryan Gibson, and Gibbo came agonisingly close to scoring the goal that his performance merited.
Picking up a loose ball near halfway, he raced away at pace into Trafford's penalty area, fired a shot across goal but missed the far post by a matter of millimetres - so unlucky.
This was terrific afternoon's work from the Linnets, without question our best performance of the season so far.
A place in the 1st Qualifying Round (the FA Trophy has a surprising number of preliminary and qualifying rounds) is thoroughly deserved and Linnets have been rewarded with a home time against now familiar opponents Pontefract Collieries on Saturday, October 26th.
The teams have already met twice in the league this season with a 1-1 opening-day draw at The Millbank being followed earlier this month by a 1-0 Ponfefract victory in the return game in Yorkshire.
Runcorn Linnets: 1 R Mottram, 2 L Corrigan, 3 J Hinnigan, 4 P Wylie, 5 A Brown, 6 J Dobie, 7 T Owens, 8 R Gibson, 9 J Rainford, 10 K Sherlock, 11 Z Aley. Subs: 15 R Wade. 16 W Bellew, 17 K Hamid. Not used:12 N Ryan, 14 D McGivern, 18 B Passant, 19 C McCarthy.
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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