16th September 2017, Runcorn Linnets FC v Maine Road : 3-0After another flurry of transfer activity which had seen the departures of Gary Grier, Chris Lawton and Matt Holmes, Michael Ellison bolstered his depleted squad with two new signings.
Both came off the substitutes bench in a solid victory in the first of three successive home games as STE BIGNALL reports.
Adam Morning, a player signed by Colne to give them a cutting edge as they pipped us to the title in 2016, had put pen to paper on Friday night and arrives with a tremendous pedigree from higher levels of the game with Manchester City and Oldham Athletic among his former clubs.
The other recruit was fellow attacking midfield player, ex-FC United of Manchester star Rory Fallon, who is working his way back into football after a long absence with a serious knee injury that required a second operation last November.
With a number of players still unavailable, Ello was able to name an unchanged starting eleven for the first time this season, with the team that had beaten City of Liverpool all keeping their places.
Maine Road always make for a difficult 90 minutes and it was no different this time around, their work rate and ability making it difficult for the Linnets in the first half.
It was Maine Road who had the first real chance and they should have taken the lead when the Linnets got too casual with the ball at the back. Only a strong save from Terry Smith kept the scores level.
Midway through the half, the Linnets did take the lead. Danny McKenna refused to be beaten in two separate tackles and his tenacity allowed Paul Shanley to break into the penalty area to play a delightful ball across the six-yard box. Mark Houghton couldn't quite reach it, but in-form attacker Stu Wellstead did – side footing home at the far post, before tearing off in celebration, thumping the Linnets badge on his chest.
Despite taking the lead, the Linnets couldn't get a full grip of the game, neither side able to say they were the dominant force. This continued into the second half with both sides having early chances as the game started to open up.
Aaron Morris flicked over a header from McKenna's corner, then Hamid played a delightful lob that left the goalkeeper stranded but drifted wide by a foot.
Road had a brief flurry of corners that the Linnets did well to survive, before reigning Player of the Season, Morris bagged his first competitive Linnets goal on the hour mark.
Danny McKenna's in-swinging corner was of such sublime quality that all Morris had to do was simply guide it past the helpless Ryan Livesey in Road's goal to provide the Linnets with a much sought after cushion in the match.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Maine Road and the Linnets set about increasing their lead further.
Adam Morning, Rory Fallon and Kasie Jones, a product of the Linnets youth squad, were all introduced from the bench. All inside the Millbank were delighted to see Ello continue to give youth a chance in a highly experienced side, especially youth from inside the club!
All made an immediate impact with Morning having a goal- bound header turned over before striking the post with a slightly-scuffed half volley.
Paul Shanley did well, cutting in from the left and attempted to set up Morning, but Fallon nipped in and got a shot away, only to be denied by Livesey, with Morning arguably in a better position.
Some gloss was added to the score line in the final minute. From excellent football around the Maine Road penalty area, the killer pass across the box by Fallon set up Shanley who swept home the goal that his efforts on the day thoroughly deserved.
We now enter a spell of games coming thick and fast with little time to dwell on the last result, and the always eventual visit of AFC Liverpool to the MLS is next up on Tuesday evening, kick off 7.45pm.
Runcorn Linnets:Terry Smith, Danny McKenna, Aaron Morris, Jimmy Moore, Danny O'Brien, Kieran Nolan, Michael Simpson, Kyle Hamid, Mark Houghton, Paul Shanley, Stuart Wellstead. Subs: Adam Morning, Rory Fallon, Kasie Jones. Not used: Sam Fitton, Adam Jones.
NB. The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Runcorn Linnets FC or its Board.