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Match report - Trafford 2 Runcorn Linnets 2

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Runcorn were unable to see off bottom-of-the-table Trafford as a third successive away match in Pitching In Northern Premier League West followed something of a familiar pattern.

As in the previous two games, Linnets relinquished a hard-earned lead.

But before the unwanted hat-trick could be completed, there had been a twist and Runcorn were forced to come from behind.

This was a ninth competitive visit to Shawe View but the first experience for the men from Murdishaw of an evening fixture under the Trafford lights.

For the hosts, it marked a debut for new boss Karl Marginson, who successfully managed FC United of Manchester earlier in his career.

His appointment had been announced the previous day with predecessor Danny Caldecott having departed last week to take over at league rivals, Clitheroe.

Linnets' veteran ex-EFL campaigner Antony Kay returned from holiday to resume central defensive duties while newcomer Oliver Molloy went straight into the starting XI at No.9.

The signing of the Charnock Richard striker, who had netted earlier this season in an Emirates FA Cup replay at APEC Taxis Stadium, was confirmed earlier in the day.

Former long-serving Runcorn favourite Ally Brown was, meanwhile, facing his old club for the first time since an off-season return to Trafford.

Despite a seven-day rest after last Tuesday's 3-1 defeat at Nantwich Town, it was evident from Runcorn's team selection that while injury worries might be easing, they hadn't gone away.

Things were only to worsen again on that front.

Molloy could have made himself an almost instant hit in the 13th minute but he cleared the bar from four yards, after getting in position to receive Adam Moseley's measured cross.

Within three minutes, Trafford had their first sight of goal at a free-kick just outside the Runcorn area but Bayleigh Passant gathered Alfie Belcher's attempt.

With players returning to natural positions, Runcorn were working the ball well. Moseley cut a dash past full back Brown, only to shoot over the top.

A foul by Will Saxon and retaliation from Trafford's Jack Sloan left both players lucky to escape punishment. There was no subsequent need for referee Mr Roots to produce any cards.

Trafford survived Runcorn's first corner at their peril, Moseley again going close, before clearing for a prompt second.

However, from their first period of pressure, Trafford went in front in the 29th minute.

Sloan's cross from the left was tapped home at the far post by his skipper Danny Lambert.

The breakthrough boosted home confidence but Runcorn were soon back on the attack with Molloy forcing a corner from which he and Lewis Doyle almost profited.

But in between flagkicks, another name was added to Runcorn's list of early-season  casualties.

Pivotal midfielder Jacques Welsh limped off with what looked like a calf injury to be replaced by Brooke, forcing manager Billy Paynter to reorganise.

On  the balance of play, Runcorn would have considered themselves unfortunate had they gone into half-time a goal adrift.

They could, in truth, have been facing a two-goal deficit, Eddie Servuts squandering a glorious chance to double the Greater Manchester side's score on a counter attack.

But, on the stroke of half-time, the visitors bagged a deserved equaliser with a shot on the slide from sub Brooke.

Although not his most convincing in terms of power, it had the accuracy to beat 'keeper Brad Rose.

Trafford had lost 2-0 leads when drawing their last two games.

Runcorn's profligacy in twice allowing one-goal advantages to likewise disappear, had been even more costly - just one point from six having been accrued.

It was now a question of which team would have the confidence and composure to succeed in the second half. The answer was neither.

Within four minutes of the restart, Runcorn were ahead as Will Saxon's threatening cross was turned into his own net by unfortunate Trafford defender Will Hall.

Molloy's debut, not without promise, ended in the 64th minute with his substitution by Mwiya Malumo, himself making only a second Runcorn appearance.

Hopes that the away side's advantage might prove decisive were ended in the 70th minute when their hosts pulled back level.

All the more frustrating for the visitors was that Trafford hadn't been causing them any great problems.

Servuts was credited with converting another Sloan cross for the equaliser.

But the suspicion was that Linnets might have returned Trafford's earlier favour through a defender's touch taking the ball past Bayleigh Passant.

Entering the last four minutes, Paynter made his final change with left back Short relieving winger Saxon, who had put in another tireless stint.

But neither side could capitalise on what little time remained - curiously, the final whistle was blown well before the minimum five added minutes were up - and both had to settle for a hard-earned point.

Runcorn will undoubtedly be disappointed to have ended their three-game road trip without a win. Struggling opposition had been there for the taking in each of the matches.

But the draw took Linnets up one place to 14th in the table and they'll hope for better when Vauxhall Motors, another team below them, visit APEC Taxis Stadium this Saturday (ko 3pm).

Runcorn Linnets: Bayleigh Passant, Sam Barratt, Eden Gumbs, Jacques Welsh (Ryan Brooke, 36 mins), Peter Wylie, Antony Kay, Will Saxon (James Short, 86 mins),  Joe Lynch, Oliver Molloy (Mwiya Malumo, 64 mins), Lewis Doyle, Adam Moseley. Sub (not used): Sean O'Mahony.

Attendance: 397.

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