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16 Nov 2019 : Runcorn draw with Ramsbottom United 1-1
Zac Aley received a Yellow Card for The Linnets in the 36th minute. In the 40th minute Zac Aley put the Linnets ahead from the edge of the area after a fantastic header that flew into the top right corner. Ally Brown received a Yellow Card for The Linnets in the 57th minute. In the 72nd minute the Linnets substituted Jamie Rainford for Joshua Dobie. Ramsbottom United pulled level in the 73rd minute with a goal from Nic Evangelinos. In the 76th minute Ramsbottom United substituted Iyrwah Gooden for Daniel Naidole. In the 84th minute the Linnets substituted Warren Bellew for Kurt Sherlock. In the 4th minute of added time of the second half Ramsbottom United substituted Eddie Moran for Josh Hmami.
16 Nov 2019 : Match Report - Ramsbottom United v Runcorn FC : 1-1
By David 'Bill' Davies
Runcorn Linnets interrupted their busy cup schedule to squeeze in a league game at Ramsbottom United, whose strong home form promised to give their visitors a hard time in search of an elusive away win.
The form book put the smart money on a score draw, and so it transpired.
Unsurprisingly after the rapturous ten-man FA Trophy victory at Prescot Cables four days earlier, manager Michael Ellison selected the same starting line-up, apart from the enforced inclusion of newly-signed goalkeeper Michael Emery, lately of Rylands FC who has played in his native Lincolnshire with Gainsborough Trinity, Boston United and Lincoln United, his last NPL club.
Bayleigh Passant wasn't fully recovered from the arm injury sustained at Marske, and Richie Mottram had missed a week due to expanded paternal duties. Old crowd favourite Matty Holmes had returned to Padiham, after helping out with two superb performances between the sticks against Cables.
After today's events, no-one was left in any doubt that Linnets have another excellent goalkeeper on the books.
Tuesday's side reselected themselves, even if a few cases of exhaustion would have been understandable.
The first half at the Riverside was a very even affair, with possession and pressure swapping from end to end to share out chances that the two defences ensured were rarely of more than the 'half' variety.
The first of them fell to the Rams after a couple of minutes, Nic Evangelinos putting Iyrwah Gooden through wide, but Ally Brown defended calmly.
Shortly afterwards, a double foul on Paul Shanley led to a Warren Bellew free-kick from which Rams' Kelvin Lumsden got there just ahead of Peter Wylie.
Another saw Jack Hinnigan head narrowly over from Zac Aley's cross.
A third chance in as many minutes had Shanley advancing on 'keeper Tom Stewart, who got a toe to the ball to deflect it to safety.
In the tenth minute, a Rams high ball into the penalty area was permitted a little too easily, but Evangelinos headed tamely into the arms of Emery. That started a spell of three or four minutes in which the hosts kept the ball, but a regimented Runcorn back line limited them to traversing the pitch with passes that didn't create any serious openings.
The next Linnets chance, after 14 minutes, came when Rams' centre-half Thompson slipped, leaving Shanley to centre to Jamie Rainford.
Heavily marked, he strove to turn and shoot when a return pass into the box might have been more effective.
Ffve minutes followed in which several Ramsbottom crosses and corners failed to deliver a solid chance, defenders blocking and clearing, or 'keeper Emery gathering confidently.
Midway through the first half Rainford threatened after leaving Thompson and Lugsden in his wake to
find Ryan Gibson just inside the box, but he was dispossessed by Tom Kennedy.
End to end once more, Rams' Reece Fishwick found himself loose at close range, but Emery threw himself into a 50/50 challenge, and won.
On 34 minutes, a header on halfway was missed, allowing Shanley to advance on the Rams' penalty area, but again Lumsden got his head to the cross before Gibson, and cleared.
A minute later, Zac Aley collected the first of the game's two yellow cards (a refreshing change from Tuesday's confetti-fest, when eight yellows were about half of the number deserved), for kicking the ball away after his 'unnatural position' handball. The free kick went straight into Emery's pocket.
The latter stages of the first half continued like tennis. A multiple passing move involving Shanley, Gibson and Owens became a case of 'too many cooks', and immediately afterwards Gooden was set free for the Rams, but blazed over the bar.
Back to the other end, and Shanley in the middle, played it out left to Bellew, who also powerfully cleared the crossbar.
It seemed that a calamitous mistake would be the only thing to break the deadlock. But it wasn't.
Five minutes from the break, Paul Shanley (he was heavily involved yet again, wasn't he?) won the ball out on the right touch line and fired a cross over the penalty spot.
Zac Aley came in from wide left and achieved a perfect blend of accuracy and power to head past the reach of Stewart into the far right corner.
It was very reminiscent of his header that put Linnets clear of Pontefract Collieries a fortnight previously, although trickier this time, as he had to back-track from 12 yards out to 15 to get to it.
One more solid chance for the hosts came when Jamie Rother fired in a good cross to the six-yard box, but Tom Owens headed clear.
If it had been a boxing match, which after Tuesday's events, happily it wasn't, the judges cards would have had it level. The pep talk from Ramsbottom's corner-men made the second half a very different affair.
Runcorn created the first chance of the second half, Rainford out left pulling it back for Bellew to deliver a great cross that was headed away into the path of Tom Owens, but his attempted thunderbolt was mis-hit.
There were precious few Linnets chances worth their name after that. It was a clean game, although it has to be said that Rams had clearly identified Paul Shanley as the danger man, and throughout the second half he was frequently fouled off the ball.
Referee Mr Kelly saw none of them, but that's how 'off the ball' works.
Otherwise, home possession and opportunities characterised the rest of the game.
The Riverside offers the nostalgic spectacle of steam trains rolling through the station behind the end Rams prefer to attack
second half, and based on these 45 minutes, the railway enthusiasts' guides must surely warn of the hazard of footballs bombarding the platforms.
Then again, Nic Evangelinos is a prolific goalscorer, so we should assume it was an off-day.
United dominated possession, leaving the visitors to chase, harry and block, which they did repeatedly as testament to an unquestionable work ethic, to the relief of the travelling fans.
Many balls into the box, by and for Evangelinos and Gooden, were headed clear by Hinnigan, Wylie, Brown and Aley, or were caught or punched by Emery.
Kyle Hamid tackled and tackled again, but there were few avenues available to build anything when the ball was won.
Seven minutes into the half, a scramble in the visitors' area led to penalty shouts for a trip, but Mr Kelly hadn't seen one.
Five minutes on, the other yellow card of the match was presented to Peter Wylie for what looked like an on-the-ball shoulder-to-shoulder challenge.
Perhaps it's another of the many recent law changes that has eluded me.
The ubiquitous Mr Evangelinos delivered the free-kick on to the 4.08 to Manchester Victoria. For ten minutes either side of the hour-mark, I tried to document the shots from Evangelinos, Gooden, Baker and Fishwick that went high and wide at the railway end, but writer's cramp got the better of me.
A rare promising break by Linnets on 63 minutes did see Rainford overlap his marker from three yards behind to run through on goal, but an offside flag was raised.
Perhaps it was for Shanley, but given that he was running back and studiously remaining out of involvement, it must have been another law change I've missed.
With 22 minutes remaining, Evangelinos ran free into the penalty area again, and this time his shot was no more than a foot over the bar. He was getting closer.
Four minutes later, Josh Dobie was introduced for Rainford to beef up the middle and add more height in defence.
Ironically, and through no fault of the Runcorn sub, the change was a prelude to the possibly inevitable. A rare second-half Runcorn break saw Shanley pulled away from a through ball by the arm, but the ref was okay with it, and the clearance put Rams back on the attack.
Eddie Moran chased to the by-line outside the edge of the six-yard box and pulled the ball back smartly to ten yards, where Evangelinos latched on to it and at last hit the target, giving Emery in the Runcorn goal no chance. 1-1.
Linnets introduced Kurt Sherlock for Bellew with six minutes remaining, and despite a number of efforts to win the ball and get it forward to his fresh legs, opportunities were scarce.
In stoppage time, such an attempt by Aley to find Sherlock was intercepted, resulting in another Rams assault, and a 25-yard free-kick.
It led to an almost certain winner from six yards out, but a phenomenal point-blank save by Emery proved to be the final action of the game.
Before kick-off, any team would have to admit that an away point at Ramsbottom is a deal worth considering. At half-time, Michael Ellison, his players and fans would have said 'no deal'. At the final whistle, Linnets had to be far happier with the outcome than the Rams.
Ten days will elapse before a home fixture against Brighouse Town gives Runcorn a chance to amass more points than games played.
In the meantime, Crewe Alexandra (20th November, 7.45pm) and FC United of Manchester (23rd November, 3pm) will slide down the pyramid to The Millbank Stadium to test Linnets' thrilling knock-out form.
Come on down. It's never boring.
Runcorn Linnets: Michael Emery, Zac Aley, Jack Hinnigan, Peter Wylie, Ally Brown, Tom Owens, Ryan Gibson, Kyle Hamid, Jamie Rainford (Josh Dobie 72), Paul Shanley, Warren Bellew (Kurt Sherlock 84). Subs not used: Ryan Wade, Louis Corrigan, Declan McGivern.
12 Nov 2019 : Match Report - Prescot Cables v Runcorn FC : 1-2
Report - David 'Bill' Davies
Runcorn Linnets made the short journey to Hope Street for the second of four meetings with Prescot Cables this season, after a last-gasp draw at The Millbank Linnets Stadium on Saturday.
The 452 people who attended the replay were left with the abiding impression that their next encounter, back in Runcorn on Boxing Day, will be as tasty as the leftover pigs in blankets.
Linnets followers were under no illusion that the approach to this game would have to be very different from the first attempt three days earlier, when Zac Aley's close range header from a corner, to equalise with literally the last touch of four minutes' added time, was perhaps his team's only attempt on target all day.
Manager Michael Ellison rang the changes, not because of any loss of faith in his players, but because a few surprises needed to be sprung.
If Cables expected normal service to be resumed, against the same line-up, it probably would have been.
On Saturday Prescot had dominated possession after doing likewise in the tackle, advancing on the Runcorn goal with a regularity that they would feel had warranted a far greater advantage than the solitary goal they scored, with 20 minutes remaining.
Too much time and space on the ball, especially out wide, had left the home side back-peddling far too often.
There were only three changes to the Linnets' starting personnel, with Zac Aley, Warren Bellew and Jamie Rainford in for Louis Corrigan, Kurt Sherlock and Connor McCarthy, but the set-up and tactics were markedly different.
Playing through the middle had resulted in insufficient weekend possession and precious few scoring chances, the Cables defence soaking up most of what was offered.
The replay started with the ball out wide far more, on a remarkably firm and flat pitch after yet more heavy rain since the weekend.
Bellew and Gibson were on hand to utilise the wings and forge exchanges with Shanley to hopefully set up Rainford at centre-forward.
That didn't really materialise, with both sides playing the ball long out to the wings, Shanley for Runcorn and Edgar for Prescot getting on the end of most of them during the first quarter-hour.
None resulted in serious chances, defenders getting there first at both ends. The big difference in Linnets' early performance, though, was made by Bellew and Gibson operating deep and, combining with Aley and Brown, effectively playing with two pairs of overlapping full-backs.
It limited Prescot's wide attacks far more, providing a double line of defence, and when the ball was won, it enabled the 'spare' defender to get forward in possession.
It gave Runcorn far more of the ball than they had enjoyed three days before, and visibly drew a more hurried if not panicky response from the opposition.
Linnets' first solid chance came in the 13th minute, Rainford in possession left of the penalty area and pulling it across for Shanley 18 yards out.
He tried to slip it between two close markers for Gibson to run on to, but one of them intercepted.
A first-time shot might have borne more fruit.
The ball was propelled to the other end, Edgar taking it into space wide right, but his cross fell to no-one, with centre-forward Hassall inexplicably on the floor in the box.
Seconds later we were back at the top end, Shanley deftly foiling an attempt by right-back Fernandes to shield the ball out for a
goal-kick, only for McCulloch to smash it back into the Runcorn third.
It was turning into tennis, until Paul Shanley changed the complexion of the game after 19 minutes.
From a quick break into the Cables half, he slipped past one man and prodded the ball past another, outpacing him and launching a face-to-face race with 'keeper Ollie Taylor.
Shan got there a split second earlier, and poked it goalwards. For the Linnets fans behind the goal it seemed to take an age to get there, but it did, faster than McCulloch could manage. 1-0.
Now we had a game, and with the early stalemate over, newfound urgency steadily built the remaining 70 minutes into as bad-tempered an affair as a General Election campaign stoked by three years of Brexititis.
Eight yellow cards and one red didn't reward referee Mr McQuillan's efforts to retain control. His decisions to brandish them (or not) took on a decidedly random hue.
Scuffles and eventually brawls ensued with increasing frequency and ferocity, but the ref's policy appeared to be to stay as far away from them as possible.
After the goal, every tackle attracted anguished howls for free-kicks and cards, and Cables were particularly vehement in their demands for a penalty for handball on 23 minutes, after the ball was smashed point-blank into Peter Wylie.
Who knows what part of him it hit? Not the referee, and probably not Peter either.
For the remainder of the first half, the ball reached the Runcorn penalty area more than the hosts', but industrious defensive covering blunted most efforts, and those that reached the six-yard box were calmly plucked out of the air or punched away with authority by 'keeper Matty Holmes.
Fans' favourite Matty had returned to The Millbank before Saturday's tie, following injury to Tranmere loanee Bayleigh Passant and paternity leave for Richie Mottram.
Across both of these games, he was as determined and reliable as he had been in the North West Counties-winning side of two seasons ago.
On 35 minutes, Holmes pulled off a save inside the foot of the post. It was one that he had no reasonable expectation of making, confounding two unchallenged opponents.
Five minutes later, Jamie Rainford had the chance to put Linnets firmly in the driving seat. Set free by Shanley into the penalty area, he drew the 'keeper and with most of the goal at his mercy, managed to
poke it wide of the right post.
Within a minute, he had an opportunity to make amends, turning McCulloch 30 yards out.
The Cables captain, already booked for a foul on 23 minutes, hauled the Runcorn No9 back by the arm.
Not a foul, apparently, and Rainford was shown yellow for shrugging him off.
It was the penultimate memorable incident of the first half. Just before the break a heavily-populated duel outside the Runcorn box resulted in a member of the home side rolling and flapping around on the floor like a haddock on the deck of a trawler.
It's a miracle he didn't hurt himself. I wasn't close enough to identify the victim, or to know what had been done to him. There were no clues to either mystery after Tom Owens had been shown a red card, as nobody in yellow and black was showing any residual sign of injury, and none of the Cables fans who were in line with the incident had any idea what Owens had done.
At half-time, Ellison replaced Rainford with Harry Cannon-Noren, doubtless to provide some nippy support up the right wing to a more central role for Shanley, while allowing Gibson to continue his sterling pincer movement efforts with Ally Brown further back, Aley and Bellew likewise on the left.
Their efforts would be even more vital with 10 men, as Hinnigan, Wiley and Hamid defended the middle. And defend it they did.
A granite rearguard was allowing Shanley to still worry the Cables defence on the break. Eight minutes into the half, he was felled by a late tackle on halfway by Turner. No cards appeared, but stern words were exchanged between the ref and both benches.
Three minutes later, Shanley was tripped on the same spot, won the ball back rather too robustly, and the resulting Cables free-kick produced a firm header that drew a great full-length save by Holmes.
The visiting fans hoped but doubted that the slender lead could be preserved for half an hour.
Their nerves were calmed when Shanley controlled a clearance in the centre circle, and not being fouled, turned and set Ryan Gibson free on a 20-yard run that no defender could catch.
He coolly slotted it past the reach of Ollie Taylor and into the bottom right corner.
The 10 men had a two-goal lead.
A minute later, Runcorn breath was held as Shanley tackled Fernandes and got the man rather than the ball, but the card was yellow.
There were still 25 minutes of fouls, niggles, tussles and referee-berating to go when the latest of many heavily-defended forays into the Runcorn box saw a theatrical swallow-dive of the kind that is pilloried on SoccerAM every Saturday morning.
But that doesn't necessarily mean he wasn't tripped. Edgar sent Matty Holmes the wrong way from the spot to send the Prescot faithful into raptures.
After 68 minutes, McCulloch clattered Shanley again, but a second yellow card still eluded him.
Shanley required lengthy attention, and having left the pitch as that strange law demands, the Linnets No10 was allowed back on. Eventually.
And as much as Cables applied themselves to firing high and wide from distance - all the tireless massed defence would allow - they still had to muster two or three players at a time to controlling Shan's work on the break, with an increasingly offensive Gibson.
Louis Corrigan was introduced for Bellew for the last 20 frantic minutes, and he caused trouble going forwards as well as combatting the labours of Edgar and Fernandes on the right flank.
The most bizarre event was saved for last, as deep into four minutes of added time, a foul by Cables centre-half Cooper on the halfway line led to an escalating brawl, culminating in Cooper connecting with a punch.
A full minute of deliberations with both assistants left us wondering how many red cards, apart from the obvious one for Cooper, would be shown.
In the event, he was summoned the 30 yards from whence he had quietly retreated, to receive the last yellow of the night.
And that was it. All over apart from the final whistle and Ryan Gibson disappearing triumphantly into a scrum of fans behind the Cables' goal.
It's fairly safe to say that the FA Trophy won't reside in Runcorn in May, but every round garners much-needed prize money, and for so many reasons it was one of those nights that fans will talk about for years.
It made the job of management team Ellison and Matt Cross so much easier on Saturday.
"Just go out and do that again".
It also secured a prize not to be underestimated: welcoming Linnets legend Aaron Morris back to The Millbank Stadium when they face FC United of Manchester in the next round.
Runcorn Linnets: Matty Holmes, Zac Aley, Jack Hinnigan, Peter Wylie, Ally Brown, Tom Owens, Warren Bellew (Louis Corrigan 72), Kyle Hamid, Jamie Rainford (Harry Cannon-Noren 45), Paul Shanley, Ryan Gibson. Subs not used: Josh Dobie, Ryan Wade, Kurt Sherlock, Declan McGivern, Connor McCarthy.
09 Nov 2019 : Match Report - Runcorn FC v Prescot Cables : 1-1
By Ste Bignall
At 16:55 on Saturday many of the drenched supporters of both sides felt that a higher power was looking down favourably on the Linnets.
Despite easily our worst performance during Ello's tenure as manager, a last-kick-of-the-game Zac Aley corner curled straight into the net to earn Runcorn an unlikely Buidbase FA Trophy lifeline.
Given the absolute torrents of rain that had flooded the country on Thursday and Friday, it was remarkable to see the pitch cut short and firm under foot; much credit to the club's groundstaff under very testing circumstances.
Runcorn just never got started in this game. Connor McCarthy, starting as the lone striker, cut an often isolated figure as he chased an endless supply of long punted clearances - the Linnets' pattern of play being to lump it forward whenever Prescot lost the ball.
One worrying factor that was clear from early doors was that the match official liked the sight of his cards. Three players had their names taken inside the first 20 minutes in what was a clean game throughout.
It brought about an unnecessary sense of caution that took away from the game slightly.
The visitors were in control from early on and stayed in control. However, in the opening 45 minutes their control led to no meaningful test for Matty Holmes in goal. The 'keeper had made a surprise return in goal with Bayleigh Passant nursing an injured elbow and Richie Mottram unavailable for family reasons.
By half-time, Runcorn had recorded zero efforts on target while Prescot managed a pair, neither of which caused Holmes any stress.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, but Prescot started to look threatening with their possession.
Holmes was called into action in the 49th minute when a low cross from the right was scuffed goalwards from eight yards out. It was a chance with which Prescot should have done better.
For the next 20 minutes, Runcorn just couldn't get hold of the ball. Wave after wave of Cables pressure was building.
And in the 68th minute, the pressure told - from the Linnets' biggest foe of the season so far, a corner kick.
The initial danger was partially dealt with, but the ball dropped kindly for Kev Edgar to slam home from just outside the six-yard box to give the visitors a thoroughly deserved lead.
Ello brought on Zac Aley, Ryan Wade and Jamie Rainford in a bid to rescue the game. But the Linnets just couldn't muster anything that could be considered a threat to the Cables' lead.
Passes were going astray and long aimless balls going straight out of play or to the goalkeeper.
The referee signalled a final four minutes of injury time for us to try to salvage something - even if that something was just to be a single shot on target.
In the 95th minute, the unbelievable happened.
Linnets won a corner which Zac Aley took as an inswinging left footer.
But Zac's corner didn't beat the first man, that first man bring Cables goalscorer Edgar who headed the ball behind for another corner.
The irony was that a better corner would most probably have been scrambled clear and ended the game.
But with a free hit, Zac stepped up again - and this time he found that one-in-a-million delivery that took the 'keeper out of the game and curled gloriously into the far top corner - -Jamie Rainford being close by to ensure the goal was scored one way or another.
Ello said himself after the game that this was a very poor performance, second best in every single department.
I'd argue that the goalkeeping department was the only exception, Matty Holmes was excellent. But aside from that, Ello was spot on; it just wasn't good enough.
And despite all that, we got another crack at it! Prescot will be kicking themselves that they didn't see us off at the first time of asking.
The importance of the replay was ramped up several notches by Monday's draw, with the winner hosting FC United of Manchester in the final qualifying round later this month
Runcorn Linnets: 1 Matt Holmes, 2 Louis Corrigan, 3 Jack Hinnigan, 4 Peter Wylie, 5 Ally Brown, 6 Tom Owens, 7 Ryan Gibson, 8 Kyle Hamid, 9 Connor McCarthy, 10 Kurt Sherlock, 11 Paul Shanley; Subs: 15 Ryan Wade, 17 Zac Aley, 14 Jamie Rainford. Not used: 12 Josh Dobie,16 Harry Cannon-Noren, 18 Warren Bellew.
02 Nov 2019 : Runcorn lost to Marske United 6-1
Marske United went ahead in the 33rd minute with a goal from Curtis Round. Marske United got another in the 37th minute with a goal from Curtis Round. Marske United put us three goals down in the 49th minute with a goal from Louis Johnson. Lewis Maloney received a Yellow Card for Marske United in the 58th minute. Marske United scored again in the 60th minute with a goal from Louis Johnson. In the 61st minute the Linnets substituted Joshua Dobie for Jamie Rainford. In the 62nd minute the Linnets substituted Ryan Wade for Connor McCarthy. In the 72nd minute Marske United substituted Andrew Stephenson for Craig Gott. In the 72nd minute Marske United substituted Lewis Maloney for Brad Plant. Marske United got yet another in the 75th minute with a goal from Louis Johnson. In the 78th minute Marske United substituted Louis Johnson for Mathew Waters. Marske United scored in the 85th minute with a goal from Mathew Waters. Zac Aley scored from just outside the 6 yard box following a well-placed finish following a rebound in the 89th minute.
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