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6th September 2011, Runcorn Linnets FC v Mossley AFC : 4-0


Runcorn went marching in to the 1st qualifying round of this year’s FA Cup with Budweiser with a convincing 4-0 defeat of Evo-Stick First Division North side Mossley at the MLS tonight. Two goals in each half, all coming from different players, reflected a game that they controlled throughout. Chris Dykes and Matty Atherton were handed starts on the right and left flanks respectively, with Sean Pearson moving in to the middle in place of the rested Phil Holland. Kev Towey was moved up top to partner Rob Whyte in place of the absent Paul Prescott.

A wild shot off target from Harry Noon and a blocked shot from Noon’s strike partner Jay Walcott provided the opening efforts of the game, neither of which remotely threatened Richie’s goal. Runcorn responded with a back post Chris Lawton header that picked up pace off the wet surface, but that too was blocked. Sean Pearson and Michael Ellison closed well in centre to win the ball for Chris Dykes on 11 minutes, and Dykes’ low left foot effort was on its way until it was deflected behind for a corner.

After being denied a penalty for a clear handball on Saturday, the opener ironically came from the penalty spot following an almost identical incident. There was no hesitation from referee Gratton in awarding the penalty and even less from Sean Pearson when slotting it away. Mossley’s Keil O’Brien was the offending player, blocking Pearson’s goal bound effort with both hands. Neil Murphy came to the rescue of Lewis Savva on the half hour, after the young defender had unsuccessfully attempted to cut out a long throw on the half way line, and allowed Mossley to break quickly.

After Dykes went close with an audacious long range chip, Runcorn doubled their lead through Kev Towey. Having whipped in a dangerous left wing corner, Towey picked up the ball as it ricocheted back out to him. After leaving Tom Ingham in his wake, Towey’s low shot from a tight angle took a deflection off the desperate Nick Swirad, and looped straight over Mossley ‘keeper Martin Pearson into the roof of the net.

The faithful had only just settled down at the Millbank, watching Towee-ee-ee when the fans’ favourite was at it again. A brilliant first time flick sent Atherton free down the left and a pin point cross found Rob Whyte, who controlled a volley on target, but failed to beat Pearson. Whyte went close again before the break when he was millimetres away from flicking in a driven Neil Murphy free kick. It remained 2-0 at the break though.

Two half time substitutes from the Mossley manger were rendered irrelevant only 30 seconds into the half, as the Linnets blew their opponents away. More closing down, firstly on full back Ben Fallows and then ‘keeper Martin Pearson, forced a sliced clearance from the latter and it was Chris Dykes who was rewarded for his own industriousness with a simple header into an empty net. Runcorn were irresistible and Mossley simply couldn’t live with them. A brilliant Rob Whyte dribble nearly added to the score line, before Atherton sent a fizzing cross agonisingly out of the reach of attacking yellow shirts.

The start encouraged the faithful, ably led as always by the ultras, and the team benefitted from more fantastic support. As if they needed any encouragement, the ultras rolled out new lyrics for Lew Savva, Savva, Chris Fitzsimmons and my personal favourite involving Richie Mottram. As the realisation dawned that the game was pretty much over as a contest, there was even time for a verse of Happy Birthday for a couple of regular members of the congregation. The linesman put an end to the joviality, when he failed, as requested by the ultras, to give them a wave.

After getting such an early goal in the second period, the team did well to retain their concentration and some assured defending restricted Mossley to a handful of efforts from distance, the majority of which missed the target by some way. Persistent and tenacious closing down in the middle of the park and resolute defending left the Evo-Stick outfit devoid of ideas. It was only a matter of time until Runcorn added a fourth and it came on 77 minutes courtesy of Rob Bodie. A deflected Matty Atherton cross from the right fell perfectly for the substitute, who did well to loop a header in under the bar. Jack Webb and Jonah O’Reilly joined the fray for the final 10 minutes, but by that stage, the job had been done.

The lads were excellent in all departments tonight and thoroughly deserved the win. The reward is a trip to Blackpool to play Squires Gate a week on Saturday after they overcame Atherton Collieries 1-0.

Play of the day – Towey’s first time flick with the outside of his right foot that set Athers free down the left during the first half; exquisite from super Kev.

Runcorn: Mottram, Murphy, Fitzsimmons (O’Reilly, 84), Savva, Lawton, Ellison, Towey (Webb, 78), Dykes (Bodie, 69), Atherton, Whyte (C), Pearson. Subs not used: Holland, Hewitt, Park.
Mossley: Pearson, Ingham, Fallows, Swirad, O’Brien, Coo, Coppin, Innes (C) (Byrne, 45), Walcott, Noon (Moore, 45), Queeley (Constantine, 66). Subs not used: Halligan, Heap, Band.

Attendance: 269

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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