Runcorn Linnets Ladies finished their pre season programme today with a very hard worked victory over Ellesmere Port LFC at the Millbank Linnets Stadium. In fact it could be said that Ellesmere Port gave the Linnets their two toughest games during that period.
The game hinged on who was attacking towards the bottom end of the Millbank Linnets Stadium. Runcorn’s Lile Ashley forcing the visiting keeper into a save after only 20 seconds. Within a minute Ashley went agonisingly close again this putting the ball wide of the target.
Chelsea Gillies was equally close from an Ashley corner. Runcorn had a goal disallowed for offside after good combination play between Becky Barker and Marcia Jones-Sacharewicz, Ashley hitting the back of the net but miss-timed her run, all this coming a frantic opening first 5 minutes.
Jones-Sacharewicz was put through on 9 minutes but her effort was aimed straight at the keeper. Another Ashley corner presented Gillies with a great headed opportunity but the midfielders effort just going over in the 10th minute, Ashley’s set pieces were causing the visitors problems and this latest effort was a sign of things to come later in the first half.
Ellesmere Port were hemmed in for much of that period of the game but managed to break free and should of taken the lead on 22 minutes but for an excellent double save by Megan Pickering in the home goal, the keeper rushing out to quickly narrow the angle to make the initial save and then reacted quickly to make the second.
On the offensive Ashley put the ball past the post again in the 24th minute, followed by a Gillies miss and another Ashley effort wide of the target on 28 minutes
Although the visitors had now crept into the game the home side looked dangerous every time they went forward and finally opened the scoring on the half hour mark, another precise corner from Ashley found the unmarked Gillies to side foot home from close range
With it being the final friendly Manager John Pickering made a few changes after going a goal up, Katie Evans replaced Beth Graham at right back and Emma McLarney replaced Molly Cawley at the heart of the defence
The pattern of play continued, and Runcorn doubled the lead on 35 minutes, again Ashley with the set piece assist from yet another corner and Gillies this time with the near post header for 2-0
Just as the half time whistle was approaching Ellesmere Port had a snap shot at the Linnets goal but it lacked any sort of power and direction to trouble Pickering.
HT Runcorn Linnets 2 (Gillies 30,35.) Ellesmere Port LFC 0
For the second period. Jones-Sacharewicz made way for Demi Rogers and Caitlin Gibbons was replaced by Ellie Isherwood at left back.
Amy Kelly replaced Molly Hewitt on the right (54 minutes) Carys Beech replaced Beth Middleton at centre half (60 minutes) Ella Clifton-Stringer replaced Katie Evans at right back (60 minutes)
Ellesmere Port came out a different team in the second half nearly getting a foothold back in the game as the Linnets defence gift wrapped a chance after only 15 seconds of the second period. It took another tremendous save from Pickering in the Runcorn goal to keep Port at bay. With shouts from the Ellesmere Port bench " Its coming " it was no surprise when it did. The visitors having bossed and bullied the half from the whistle. The Runcorn defence dwelling on the ball too long in the 67th minute allowed the Port forward to pounce and leave a one on one with Pickering, now it was game on.
Jones-Sacharewicz returned to the game with 16 minutes remaining on the clock in place of the hard working Ashley, Captain Barker and Ellie Dyson swapped midfield positions in an attempt to make it more compact whilst providing a more attacking threat. Within seconds of the changes Pickering came to the rescue again tipping a long range powerful effort onto the bar from an Ellesmere midfielder 15 minutes from the end.
Runcorn still pushed forward looking to kill the game and had chances throughout but once again failed to capitalise when it was needed, but with the visitors pushing forward looking for the equaliser the Linnets should of sealed it in the 88th minute but missed a glorious chance the ball going past the post from a Barker effort when it looked easier to score.
Deep into added time in the 93rd minute Ellesmere Port gave an unnecessary free kick away on the edge of their own box for a foul on Barker. What might have been deemed a good tackle penalised possibly for the follow through. Up stepped Gillies whose posture said pick this one out as she nonchalantly put the ball into the top corner for her hatrick and her teams 3-1 win
FT Runcorn Linnets Ladies 3 (Gillies 30,35,90.) Ellesmere Port 1 (67)
Runcorn. Pickering, Gibbons, Middleton, Cawley, Graham, Dyson, Barker, Gillies, Hewitt, Jones-Sacharewicz, Ashley.
Subs Mclarney, Evans, Isherwood, Beech, Ella Clifton-Stringer, Rogers, and Kelly. (Subs not used O’Gorman and Hatfield)
Manager John Pickering will be happy tonight with his teams 7th straight win, 8 from 9 and 49 goals in pre-season. Although Ellesmere Port bullied the second half this was exactly why the game was arranged to give the Linnets a tough encounter. The amount of substitutions made by Runcorn probably had an adverse effect on their second half performance but this takes nothing away from Ellesmere Port who on this showing must surely be one of the title contenders in Cheshire Championship West.
Manager Pickering said after the game, he was happy to have won but the workout the players got was invaluable at the end of this pre-season, first half we were in near total control, played some good football and created so many chances but failed to put them away, in the second half credit Ellesmere Port they came out and asked different questions and played well but defensively we stood our ground and did what was needed, we used 18 players today to give game time where possible, a great hatrick from Chelsea Gillies and a deservedly Player of the match award for her overall play but credit Lile Ashley for her set piece work that created problems for their defence time ad time again, the quality of ball set up the first 2 goals. We were missing a few players today so it was a chance for others to step up and give me a headache for next week’s opening league game squad selection
All views are that of the Author and not necessary that of Runcorn Linnets FC Management or Players.