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Match Report - Clitheroe 1 Runcorn Linnets 1

Report By Jack McGorry; pictures by Neil Thornton.

On a cold, wet and windy ‘Non-League Day’, the 938 fans inside the EcoGiants Stadium witnessed a closely-fought draw between the Yellows and hosts for the afternoon, Clitheroe.

Having secured three points at home the previous Saturday versus Avro, the Yellows were looking to bolster their second-place league standing with another win after heading northbound on the M6 into the Ribble Valley.

Boss Billy Paynter made three changes - Olly Molloy replacing Ryan Brooke, Mackenzie O’Neill starting ahead of Will Saxon and Sam Barratt coming in at right back.

Peter Wylie switched across to left back with club captain James Short dropping to the bench. Adam Moseley missed out through a slight injury.

Beginning the first half strongly, the Yellows found a lot of freedom on the wings, and found the net from a stunning cross by Sam Barratt being met by a thunderous Olly Molloy effort.

It beat Hakan Burton all ends up but celebrations among the forever-loud away support were quickly extinguished as the linesman had immediately raised his flag, deeming Mackenzie O’Neill to have been offside in the build-up.

The home side were unlucky not to score soon after, a swerving cross from a right-wing corner had Yellows’ ‘keeper Bayleigh Passant scrambling but it hit the bar.

Molloy cast aside his earlier  disappointment to put the Yellows deservedly ahead, nipping in front of his marker to  get on the end of a Lewis Doyle near-post cross from a quickly-taken free-kick, toe-poking his effort past the Blues ‘keeper, in the 40th minute.

The Yellows started the second half similarly to the first with a flurry of chances around the Clitheroe box but nothing concrete resulted from them.

Joe Thompson made his debut for the Yellows, replacing the hard-working Eden Gumbs just after the 60-minute mark.

The centre midfielder, signed from Hednesford Town on Friday evening, was straight into Billy Paynter’s travelling squad, and after coming on, he looked every bit of a key team player going into the twilight of this season, and more importantly the play-off possibilities.

Fan favourite Will Saxon came on for Mackenzie O’Neill shortly after, as Paynter looked to increase his team’s lead.

With a player like Sefton Gonzales on the pitch for the hosts, there was always an element of danger whenever the Blues went forward.

Sefton nearly found himself on the scoresheet, using his strength to keep possession away from the oncoming Bayleigh Passant, who he duly rounded but only for Antony Kay to keep the big centre forward’s resulting effort out of an empty net.

Clitheroe’s pressure was building and they found a 72nd-minute equaliser through their No.7 and man of the match Richard Baker flicking on a Blues corner from the left.

The ball somehow evaded everyone, nestling inside the far post of Bayleigh Passant’s goal.

Billy Paynter looked to talisman Ryan Brooke as a straight-swap substitute for Olly Molloy with 10 minutes left.

Clitheroe, with their tails up after the equaliser, probed away in the dying embers of the game – searching for an equaliser, urged on by the Blues support. But it wasn’t to be.

Once the four added minutes were up, the referee brought a close to proceedings, the Yellows settling for a deserved point away from home in grim weather conditions.

With Prescot and Bootle both gaining three points versus Newcastle Town and Kidsgrove, respectively, pressure will now be on the Yellows to defeat Nantwich Town on Good Friday afternoon, and further chisel their name onto a third successive play-off finish.

Runcorn Linnets: Bayleigh Passant, Sam Barratt, Peter Wylie, Jacques Welsh, Sean O’Mahony, Antony Kay, Kieran Knapper, Lewis Doyle, Oliver Molloy (Ryan Brooke, 81 mins), Mackenzie O’Neill (Will Saxon, 70 mins), Eden Gumbs (Joe Thompson, 61 mins). Subs not used: James Short, Eric Byrne.


Attendance: 938.

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