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Match report - 1874 Northwich 0 Runcorn Linnets 5

By Jack McGorry

It was party time as the Yellows travelled in their numbers just 7 miles down the A533 to Townfield, home of Barnton and hosts for the afternoon, 1874 Northwich, for the last league game of the season.

Fans arrived by cars and in two 49-seater coaches, dressed in outfits ranging from traditional German lederhosen to dinosaurs and even a mini Billy Paynter!

With a play-off spot already in the bag, thanks to a 3-2 win against neighbours

Widnes the previous weekend, work was still to be done to ensure the Linnets finished in second place and to confirm home advantage for the semi-final.

Manager Paynter, adopting a strong attacking line-up, startied both Olly Molloy and Ryan Brooke up front, James Hooper and teenager Adam Moseley operated on the flanks.

Joe Thompson and Lewis Doyle took up roles in central midfield with the back four consisting of Sam Barratt, Antony Kay, Sean O’Mahony and captain James Short.

The impressive Harvey Passant was in goal, still covering for his injured older brother Bayleigh.

Linnets were soon looking in the mood, creating their first chance after two minutes.

Adam Moseley played through on goal by a long searching ball from Doyle, saw his strike rise above and over.

1874’s Kacper Mialkowski was brought down for a free-kick a couple of minutes later.

A fine cross into the box from the free-kick by 1874’s No.7 Matt Woolley was met by the head of captain Matthew Fenton. But Harvey Passant pulled off a reflex save to turn the ball around the near post.

Harvey Passant was soon called into action again. Woolley, with another free-kick, released Isaac Noble down the right but his cross was covered by Passant Jnr.

With the ball spilling to 1874 striker Anisio Jesus, 1874 looked certain to go in front until Jesus’s shot was saved by the goalkeeper, who had celebrated his 21st birthday in the week.

These chances for 1874 seemed to spur Linnets into action and the first half was soon dominated by the away side in purple and pink.

On the 15 minute mark, James Hooper was hauled down by two of the 1874 defence.

His brilliant curving cross from the free-kick somehow escaped everyone.

Next it was Olly Molloy’s chance to open the scoring. Bursting into the box, he forced a save from Mike Shorthouse in the ‘74 goal.

It was all Linnets now and they deservedly got their first goal after 33 minutes. A long ball into the attacking third was flicked on by Ryan Brooke into the possession of Olly Molloy.

Holding onto the ball well, under pressure from Matthew Fenton, he passed back to Brooke, who was making a run in behind.

Brooke advanced on goal and when the ball bounced up after a low, diving save from Shorthouse, Lewis Doyle was on hand to guide the ball into the back of an empty net.

Wasting no time, Olly Molloy scored a brace in what remainrd of the half to put the Yellows well in control at 0-3.

Firstly, in the 40th minute, James Short’s low ball into the 1874 box wasn’t dealt with by 1874’s Michael Ibeto, who completely missed with an attempt to clear.

Molloy saw his opportunity to nip the ball ahead of Mark Jones, producing a fine finish into the bottom corner.

Seven minutes later, it was more poor defending from 1874 as Sam Barratt’s long clearance sailed well into home territory. Ibeto’s attempted header back to Shorthouse beat the oncoming 1874 ‘keeper, who was well out of his ground.

With the 45 minutes up, Linnets top scorer Molloy took full advantage - lashing the ball home from a tight angle for his 18th goal of the season.

Coming out for the second half three goals up, Yellows extended their lead to four within three minutes of the restart.

Adam Moseley brought the ball forward with a great run into the 1874 half before spreading play out wide to Molloy on the left.

Fine work again from Molloy, this time with a precise pass across the face of the goal, created a tap-in for the awaiting James Hooper. Putting the game behind any reasonable doubt, this also ssealed the second-place finish for the Yellows – their highest ever placing at Step 4 being achieved on the eve of the club’s 18th birthday.

For the majority of the second half, it seemed both sides had settled for the result, as there were no further clear-cut chances.

There was still time, however, for substitute Eden Gumbs to add more gloss onto the scoreline.

Great footwork in midfield from Gumbs, in holding off challenges from both Chris McCann and Sam Oliver, enabled a beautiful ‘one-two’ move with fellow sub Will Saxon. It culminated in Gumbs going clean throughin the 88th minute to stroke the ball past Shorthouse to make it 0-5,

It was a wonderful goal, and it wasn’t long before the referee brought a close to proceedings and the league season for both sides.

Cue wild celebrations from the fantastic, colourful Linnets support. For 1874, it was the final blow of their relegation campaign.

All Runcorn thoughts now turn to Tuesday evening’s promotion semi-final with Linnets at home to fifth-placed City of Liverpool, whose qualification was confirmed with a 1-1 draw against fellow play-off hopefuls Witton Albion.

A fascinating tie is in store and a huge chance for Linnets to make it three successive play-off finals.

Runcorn Linnets: Harvey Passant, Sam Barratt, James Short, Joe Thompson (Will Saxon, 65 mins), Sean O’Mahony, Anthony Kay, Adam Moseley, Olly Molloy (Eden Gumbs , 53 mins), Ryan Brooke, James Hooper (Kieran Knapper 54 mins). Subs (not used): Peter Wylie, Jacques Welsh.

Attendance: 560.

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