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Match report - Runcorn Linnets 7 Runcorn Town 0

Last season's beaten finalists Runcorn Linnets cruised into the second round of the Liverpool FA Senior Cup with a performance and victory of consummate ease.

This was the first Runcorn derby since Town won at APEC Taxis Stadium in the final game of Linnets' title-winning 2017-18 campaign in the North West Counties League Premier Division.

The margin and manner of this win underlined the gulf, which has since developed between the neighbouring clubs with Linnets steamrollering the visitors, despite playing in a relatively low gear.

The two-division gap between the teams was apparent from an early stage and it was very much one-way traffic.

Ryan Brooke headed Linnets into a sixth-minute lead from a James Hooper cross to set the tone for a dominant Linnets display.

This followed a presentation before kick-off to recognise the scorer's recent 100th appearance in the Yellow & Green.

Heavy underdogs Town, lying 12th from 18 in the NWCL Division One North, showed a lot of heart against a Linnets side whose confidence had been increased by two successive Pitching In Northern Premier League West victories.

These had left them in sixth place and on the brink of the play-off zone.

After collecting an early caution for Stephen Brown's late challenge on Linnets full-back Eden Gumbs, the away side, to their great credit, never deviated from trying to play the right way.

Their problem was the extra quality in the Linnets ranks with the hosts looking as if they could pick up the pace at any time.

The away side did well to keep the half-time deficit to a couple with Brooke laying the ball off for Mwiya Malumo to lash home Runcorn's second.

It was the first goal of Malumo's Linnets career on his home debut.

Town took until the last few minutes of the first half to show any kind of attacking intent with their first shot clearing the crossbar by a distance.

By that time, Linnets could have been three or four goals to the good with Brooke having been denied by the woodwork.

Town weren't helped when defender Nicholas Long, who had started the game wearing a knee support, found he could no longer play through injury and walked off disconsolately.

At half-time, Linnets manager Billy Paynter felt confident enough in his team's position in the match to make three changes.

The influential Brooke, Will Saxon and Lewis Doyle were all withdrawn at no detriment to the strength of the team as Jacques Welsh, probably Linnets player of the season so far, Adam Moseley and Olly Molloy replaced them.

LSC rules this season allow five substitutions per side and Paynter didn't waste the opportunity to further rotate with important League action pending, starting with Saturday's visit of Hanley Town.

Club captain James Short and Che Trapasso were introduced, for Malumo and Hooper.

This was a first competitive outing for pre-season signing Trapasso and the ex-Port Vale youngster was keen to impress.

The second half became something of a procession, which began with Hooper ghosting past the visiting defence in the 49th minute - delivering the first goal of his second Linnets spell, which had begun last time out at Bootle.

Hallowe'en became a real fright night for Town's spooked and spellbound defence as Joe Lynch plundered a hat-trick - his third goal being the pick of the bunch.

Visiting goalkeeper Toby Hurst was left clutching thin air as ex-Chester midfielder Lynch struck direct from a 20-yard free kick to complete the rout in the 86th minute.

Linnets' fifth goal had come two minutes earlier with a measured finish from sub Molloy delighting the vast majority of APEC Taxis Stadium's second highest crowd of the season.

Town must have been grateful to hear the final whistle on a chastening night.

Runcorn Linnets: Bayleigh Passant, Sam Barrett, Eden Gumbs, Joe Lynch, Peter Wylie, Antony Kay, Mwiya Malumo (James Short, 57 mins), Lewis Doyle (Jaques Welsh, 46 mins), Ryan Brooke (Olly Molloy, 46 mins), Will Saxon (Adam Moseley, 46 mins), James Hooper (Che Trapasso, 65 mins). Sub (not used): Josh Roberts (GK).

Attendance: 735.


Top: Hat-trick hero Joe Lynch and James Hooper, scorer of Linnets' third goal.

Middle: Ryan Brooke receives his 100th appearance trophy from matchday assistant Dan Jago.

Bottom: Mwiya Malumo tussles for possession.

Pictures by TOM PAUL.

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