By guest reporter, Phil Perrin
Saturday saw Runcorn Linnets go toe to toe with second-placed Northern Premier League West rivals Stalybridge Celtic at a very wet APEC Taxis Stadium.
The first fifteen minutes of the game were played mainly in midfield as neither team could dominate or get a foothold in the match.
It took until the 20-minute mark for Linnets to have their first serious attack, with Will Saxon getting free inside the box.
However, his shot was saved by Stalybridge goalkeeper Luke Hewitson, who spilled the ball to the feet of Ryan Brooke for a shot which went over the bar from close range.
Ten minutes before half-time, Runcorn Linnets had a big shout for a penalty when Joe Lynch's corner was headed by Ryan Brooke.
The attempt struck the arm of a Stalybridge defender on the goal line but was deemed no penalty, which was a bit dubious.
Just before half-time, Runcorn Linnets came closest to the opening goal.
Adam Moseley was put clean through but his shot was saved by the 'keeper, the rebound from birthday boy Sam Barratt striking the right post and a second follow-up by Saxon flying wide.
The start of the second half saw Linnets start more on the front foot and dominate.
Finally, Runcorn took the lead in the 60th minute.
A dangerous run down the wing saw Adam Moseley beat the Celtic defender for pace.
His cut back found the feet of Will Saxon who first-time shot found the bottom left corner of the goal to make it 1-0 to Runcorn.
The rest of second half was largely a scrappy affair with neither team offering anything attacking wise in face of strong defending at both ends.
The 1-0 win brought three vital points for Billy Paynter and the team on their return to league action after a month of knock-out commitments.
Overall, the players, staff and fans should be very pleased with today's result.
Runcorn Linnets: Bayleigh Passant, Sam Barratt, Peter Wylie (Kenny Brown, 46 mins), Jacques Welsh, Sean O'Mahony, Antony Kay, Adam Moseley (Harry Hagan, 76 mins), Joe Lynch, Ryan Brooke, Will Saxon, Eden Gumbs. Sub (not used): Alex Perry.