Report: Runcorn Linnets 1-4 Atherton Collieries

The Collieries made the journey to Runcorn Linnets on Saturday in yet another NWCFL Premier Division game. Monday night saw the Colls make real progress on a performance front; only denied three points due to a last minute Barnoldswick penalty. With this in mind, Clegg opted for the same squad for this game against a team that has only lost once this season. A crowd of 360 descended upon the Milbank stadium with strong numbers following the black and whites. Atherton couldn’t have made a worse start to the game as they allowed Linnets to take the lead inside three minutes of the game. Kyle Hamid received the ball inside of the Collieries’ area; the midfielder turned and slipped the ball under Danny Taberner. This was a wakeup call for Colls, after this they found themselves with a tightened defence that was hard to break down. However, on eleven minutes they gifted Runcorn with a free kick. Luckily, the ball was headed over by Hamid who was keen to get his second of the game. The closest effort of the half for Colls came on 15 minutes. From a corner, Mark Truffas swung the ball towards the near post. Captain Mark Battersby, who always comes off on top in these situations, rose highest to head the ball at goal. The header looked destined to bullet into the back of the net. However, Linnets did well as they deflected the ball away for another corner. A minute later and Atherton had yet another chance to find that equaliser. A deep cross from Keith Wedge on the right side of the field was collected by Truffas. The winger controlled and cut inside. Unfortunately, Truffas’ shot was blocked wide for a corner. From which, Truffas received the ball on the edge of the area and curled his shot at goal, Dean Port picked up with ease. The Colls controlled the middle period of the first half of the game; however, Taberner had to be on hand to keep Atherton in the game. Runcorn’s Michael White played the ball long for Jason Carey who collected, turned and released his shot at goal. Taberner did very well to get across the goal and turn the shot away for a corner. On 27 minutes, Ben Hardcastle played a ball across the edge of the Linnets’ area. M. Battersby collected before he fired his shot at goal. Port saved well. Runcorn had three good chances as 15 minutes of the half remained. The first saw Taberner again make a good save, this time from a free kick situation. With minutes of the half left on the clock, Linnets’ had their second opportunity. After Port had collected a free kick, he played a long ball forward for Freddie Potter to run onto. Unfortunately for those in green and yellow, Potter chipped the ball well over the bar. The lively Linnets forward had another effort with seconds to go. Potter cut inside of the Colls’ box before he fired wide of the left post. Half Time – Runcorn Linnets 1-0 Atherton Collieries Second half saw quite possibly the best Collieries’ performance under manager Michael Clegg. And it all started with one change, from a 4-5-1 formation to 4-4-2, as Matt Grimshaw made way for James Kirby. Kirby’s first contribution to the game was a goal, and that came on 51 minutes. Hardcastle collected the ball in midfield, the midfielder adjusted his run and pelted down the right wing before he cut inside the area and played the ball across the face of goal. Kirby was on hand to tap the ball into the back of the net to send the Collieries’ supporters wild. Six minutes later and the Colls took the lead. Kirby turned from scorer to provider as he received the ball on the far right side of the Runcorn area. The forward then advanced across the goal before he played the ball across to midfielder Kris Holt. The ball was fired into the top left hand corner of the goal by Holt. A fantastic turnaround by Atherton. A minute later, and keen to keep up the pressure, the Collieries were on the attack once again. Kirby advanced into the area and poked a shot at goal. Goalkeeper Port managed to get down and save the shot. However, Port parried straight at M. Battersby who instantly sent an effort towards goal. Unfortunately, M. Battersby’s shot was cleared off the line. As the game hit the hour mark, Gaz Peet, who played well again at left back, advanced down the left wing. The midfielder turned defender drilled the ball across the box. However, Peet’s cross was headed away from danger. Runcorn put the Colls under very little pressure for this period of the game and Taberner had very little to do as he saw one or two fly wide and over. 25 minutes remained when Peet was again in a forward position. After the left back advanced down the wing, Peet cut inside before he saw his shot drift wide of the mark. On 72 minutes, Kirby doubled his own personal tally and of course ensured the game was safe for Atherton. From a tight angle Kirby advanced and cured the ball around Port and into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. Ten minutes remained when Linnets were reduced to ten men after Kurt Sherlock was shown a straight red after a foul on James Moore.  The Colls made it four on 84 minutes as Kirby got his third and secured a second half hat-trick. Again, Kirby fired the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal after the shot received a deflection on the way to send it past Port. Full Time – Runcorn Linnets 1-4 Atherton Collieries A superb performance for the Collieries, winning in style against a team that are dubbed as one of the favourites to finish top this season. A mixture of fine individual performances and a fantastic team performance resulted in what was a really good win and a statement of content. Attendance: 360 Man of the Match: Mark Ayres Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Keith Wedge, Gareth Peet, James Moore, Matt Grimshaw, Mark Ayres, Ben Hardcastle, Josh Messer, Mark Battersby ©, Kristian Holt and Mark Truffas – Substitutes: James Kirby, Matt Boland, Nathan Battersby, Jake Kenny and Andrew Heald. Runcorn Linnets: Dean Port, Kieron Brislen, Matthew Atherton, River Humphreys, Michael White, Michael Ellison ©, Michael Simpson, Kyle Hamid, Freddie Potter, Jason Carey and Kurt Sherlock – Substitutes: Francis Smith, Mark Houghton, Anthony Hickey, Ben Halfacre and Adam Hilton.

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