Report: Colls 0-1 Linnets

The clash between the Hallmark Security Premier League's top two placed clubs didn't live up to the mouth-watering pre match billing but this didn't bother the visitors who left the Kensite Stadium as the new league leaders. Colls welcomed Darrhyl Mason back to the side after a spell playing in the Evostik North while Johnny Gorman and Josh Messer returned to the starting line.  Linnets went into the game undefeated in the league since the first week of the year and they were slam bang back in the title mix. The match started slowly with both sides giving each other plenty of respect.  On 10 minutes Ben Hardcastle headed a probing cross from Gorman on target but it was meat and drink for Linnets custodian Matthew Holmes.  Messer somehow avoided a caution for a roughhouse challenge, a decision which incensed the, as usual, partisan  travelling support.  It also galvanised the players and when Adam Reid punched a punt into the box clear Krissy Holt's volley was almost returned with a change. A slight deflection sent the ball millimetres wide. The Linnets were starting to look the more ominous side although both teams were creating half chances.  A floated free kick by Gorman narrowly avoided Mason and at the other end Freddie Potter went down a little too easy in the box under a Danny Lafferty challenge and referee Bennett gave short shrift to the half-hearted appeals.  Jamie Forbes then had to put in a sublimely timed challenge following a lightening break.  Any misjudgement would have seen a nailed on Linnets penalty.  With the half time orange cordial approaching Gorman forced Holmes into a tidy save when he butted a Gareth Peet cross goal-bound.  The final action of the half saw two ex Colls men link up.  Paul Shanley wiggled his way to the by-line and Holt got a nick on the cross but Reid somehow smuggled the ball clear from point blank range.  A close enough half but Colls were the happier going in at 0-0. The match-winner came within three minutes of the restart.  A hopeful long ball caused panic in the Colls defence. Reid bungled a clearance on the edge of his box and the yellow n green's skipper Mark Houghton was in the right place at the right time and he made no mistake.  Linnets were now controlling the tempo although not necessarily possession and Reid was forced into a smart one on one save.  Mark Truffas was introduced and he provided a bit of a spark. He smashed a 20 yard piledriver with Holmes stagnant but the ball thundered off the far post and to safety. Crazily within seconds play was at the other end of the pitch and Reid was relieved to see an effort bounce off the crossbar.  Colls tried valiantly to get back on terms but it wasn't to be and the Linnets deservedly took the spoils. They left the field to rapturous applause from their bumper following.  There were seven cautions in the game although not a dirty game.  However on the whole the referee got them correct. Colls drop to second on the league ladder but the title is still in their own hands.  By common consent it wasn't the best performance of the campaign but you have to give credit to the opposition who got what they came for.  They have done the double over Michael Clegg's team and Houghton has turned into a first class nemesis. There is plenty of football left in the mad month of April and five teams mathematically remain in the hunt to be top dog.  There are going to be many more twists and turns.

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