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Match report - Runcorn Linnets 0 City of Liverpool 2

By Jack McGorry

Runcorn Linnets will face another season in Pitching In Northern Premier League West Division, after falling to defeat at home to City of Liverpool in Tuesday night's Promotion Semi-final.

A sold-out APEC Taxis Stadium, with an all-ticket crowd of 1,600, saw the Purps go through to Saturday's final courtesy of a goal in each half from Elliot Morris.

Linnets manager Billy Paynter made three changes, after Saturday’s 0-5 win at 1874 Northwich in the closing game of the league campaign.

Adam Moseley and Sam Barratt dropped to the bench, with Jacques Welsh and Peter Wylie being restored to the starting line-up. FIt-again Bayleigh Passant replaced younger brother Harvey in goal.

It became clear, almost from the first whistle, that it was going to be a rather erratic affair, as both sides struggled to control the game.

Misplaced passes, searching long balls and poor ball control made for a rather messy first half of football.

The first chance, after five minutes, went Linnets’ way.

Great footwork from Welsh in midfield gave him the space to float a long ball over to Olly Molloy.

Although his first touch let him down, the striker managed to get a shot away, but it sailed harmlessly over the bar.

Just before the half-hour mark, it was the Yellows again with another chance.

A cross in from James Hooper, at the corner flag, found a parading Olly Molloy, but his volleyed effort struck a Purps defender.

Bayleigh Passant, having missed four ganes due to a broken finger, was called into action soon after.

A City of Liverpool free-kick was dangerously whipped into the box, and met by a goalbound header from Simon Willis. Passant pulled off a brilliant reaction save to keep the scores level.

It was a warning sign for the Yellows, as the pressure from City of Liverpool was starting to show.

Within five minutes, City of Liverpool went ahead. A mix-up in defence, after an attempted clearance by Antony Kay, left Elliot Morris to sneak in and poke the ball past a helpless Passant.

As the game neared half-time, there was still time for another opportunity for the Yellows to grab an equaliser.

A swooping long ball into the City of Liverpool area found Ryan Brooke at the back post.

Reaching for the ball, he managed to guide an effort goalwards, forcing a solid save from ‘keeper Calvin Hare.

After the restart for the second half, more loose and clumsy football was to be seen, as both Linnets and the Purps struggled to gain any consistent possession.

Billy Paynter soon looked to the bench, replacing the struggling Joe Thompson with winger Will Saxon.

Saxon soon made a chance of an equaliser for himself. Picking up the ball in midfield, and making a trademark run inside, he unleashed a fantastic effort towards the far corner of Hare’s goal, But it sailed just wide.

From the resulting goal-kick, City of Liverpool doubled their lead. Hare’s long ball reached the left-wing, Danny Mitchley and Ismail Sonko combining well to spread the ball inside for a completely free Morris. He slammed the ball home to put the Purps 0-2 up with 25 minutes left to play.

As the Yellows looked for a comeback in the latter stages, their chances were few and far between.

Olly Molloy controlled the ball well, from a deep cross into the box from James Short. Molloy's pass found a rampaging Jacques Welsh, but the midfielder's fierce shot on goal was blocked and defended well.

The last real opportunity of the game for the Linnets, with 10 minutes to go, fell to captain James Short.

A through ball from midfield found Short in acres of space to put the ball beyond Hare from the left of the area.

But his shot was covered well by the Purps ‘keeper.

After a lacklustre evening, the referee drew a close to the third semi-final in successive seasons for Linnets. They had won the other two before losing both finals to Marine and Workington, respectively.

Runcorn can look back on a second place league finish at Step 4 - their highest ever placing - but City of Liverpool advance to the play-off final, away to Prescot Cables, on Saturday.

Runcorn Linnets: Bayleigh Passant, Peter Wylie, James Short, Joe Thompson (Will Saxon 51 mins), Sean O’Mahony, Antony Kay, Lewis Doyle, Jacques Welsh, Oliver Molloy, Ryan Brooke (Adam Moseley 72 mins), James Hooper (Eden Gumbs, 58 mins). Subs (not used): Harvey Passant (GK), Sam Barratt.

Attendance: 1,600.

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