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Match Report - Runcorn Linnets 2 Prescot Cables 1


By Dave Bettley


Two-goal Olly Molloy was determined that his number wouldn't be up in Pitching In Northern Premier League West's big Boxing Day derby.


After toiling away for 80 minutes without reward, the Linnets centre forward, pictured, was on the brink of being substituted at APEC Taxis Stadium. 


But before there was a suitable break in play for the board to be raised, he fired Linnets level. 


The planned change was quickly abandoned and for good measure, the big Linnets No.9 came up with a thrilling 83rd-minute winner in front of a season's best APEC Taxis Stadium crowd of 1,001. 


It lifted hitherto third-placed Linnets above their visitors, keeping them in sight of leaders Leek Town. 


After a first half, in which Linnets had to absorb strong pressure but came closest to scoring, the game appeared to have swung away from the hosts. 


Within two minutes of the restart, they had suffered the latest in a series of central defensive blows when Alex Jones injured himself in making a great tackle in midfield.


Peter Wylie switched into the middle from right back, where Sam Barratt resumed, but having defended superbly throughout, the home side dropped their guard briefly while regrouping. 


A left-wing Prescot corner was headed home at the far post with the scorer, Nathan Koehler being unmarked. 


Runcorn manager Billy Paynter's response was to introduce James Hooper to provide extra support for Molloy in attack. 


However, Linnets found themselves going backward more often than forward.


As Cables probed for another goal, which would surely have sealed Runcorn's fate, the Yellow & Greens succeeded in staying in the contest. 


They just needed to find an attacking spark from somewhere.


It came with 10 minutes left, when Hooper worked his way out of a tight spot by the corner flag on the Prescot left. He delivered a left-foot cross which Molloy met with his right at the near post, guiding an instinctive shot into the opposite corner. 


Before Cables could recover their composure, Molloy was at it again.


A high ball inside the visitors' penalty area was met by Barratt. The defender's effort on goal was blocked but Molloy slotted away the rebound.


Paynter's men had reaped rich rewards for persistence, skipper James Short leading by example at left back. 


After an enterprising start, Runcorn had spent much of the opening 45 minutes on the back foot but still created the better chances on the counter offensive.


Holding midfielder Jacques Welsh was instrumental in repelling strong-running Prescot while also instigating the home team's most effective ripostes. 


From one Welsh break, Joe Lynch drove in a cross from the right which just evaded Molloy, sliding in at the far post. 


Another produced an opening for Eden Gumbs.. But after shifting the ball onto his left foot, the wideman was foiled by a diving save by Mitchell Allen. 


Wayward finishing had seen Prescot waste valuable ground gained by the advances of Thomas Owens and Jack Goodwin. 


Their best chance was not unlike the one from which Runcorn would eventually draw level, although it stemmed from the left rather than the right.


A first-time flick shot by John Murphy from overlapping full back Matthew Devine's cross drifted wide of the far post. 


After two Christmas wins in the space of four days to end 2023, Linnets go for a holiday hat-trick at Witton Albion on New Year's Day. 


Runcorn Linnets: Bayleigh Passant, Peter Wylie, James Short, Jacques Welsh, Sam Wilson, Alex Jones (Sam Barratt, 47 mins), Will Saxon (Adam Moseley, 89 mins), Joe Lynch, Olly Molloy, Lewis Doyle, Eden Gumbs (James Hooper, 52 mins). Subs (not used):  Cameron Rooney, Caelan Ryan. 


Attendance: 1,001.


Photo by Neil Thornton.

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