MATCH REPORT | West 4-0 Runcorn Linnets
West went top of the NWCFL Premier Division for the first time ever thanks to a 4-0 win at home to Runcorn Linnets.
In action for the second time in 72 hours; Manager Steve Settle made just one change to the starting line up as Gary Lilley returned in place of the absent Richmond Botchey.
Backed by the huge bank holiday crowd the home side started brightly when Nic Evangelinos did well on the left to capitalise on a miss-kick finding Tom Bailey with a low cross who saw his close range effort deflected over the bar after just seven minutes.
The deadlock was broken on 11 minutes when a pinpoint pass over the defence released Saul Henderson one-on-one and he finished sublimely with a dink over Linnets goalkeeper Terry Smith. Three minutes later the visitors had a chance to respond as a Anthony Hickey headed over at the far post after a deep cross from the right.
It was 2-0 on 16 minutes when a low effort from Kay bounced off the mid-riff of the goalkeeper and Henderson, reacting quickest, was on hand to tap it home. From there West never looked back and on 19 minutes Henderson broke down the right, finding Kay with his inside pass who flicked it on into the path of Evangelinos whose stretched effort flew just over the bar.
Evangelinos went close again on 26 minutes when Joe Shaw did well to win the ball back in the Linnets half, playing in Kay who in turned found Bailey on the left before his cross was turned over by Evangelinos in a fine West move. Evangelinos came even close on 38 minutes when Henderson was denied one-on-one by Smith in the Linnets goal before he did brilliantly to tip a powerful Evangelinos header round the post. The West forward wouldn’t be denied however as he capitalised on the resulting corner to drill home after the goalkeeper spilled the initial cross.
It would get worse for Linnets before half time as Thomas Hardwick was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Henderson.
Despite the numerical disadvantage it was the visitors who created the second half’s first chance when Paul Shanley did well to draw out goalkeeper Aaron Ashley but couldn’t divert his effort on target. West punished the miss to the max as Henderson was allowed too much room on the right hand side as he drove into the box before slotting home beyond the helpless Linnets goalkeeper on 54 minutes.
That was the end of the goals but not the chances as Evangelinos was twice denied on the hour mark after a wonderful touch from Shaw when his first effort was bravely blocked before his second effort was deflected over. The Linnets goalkeeper was again called into action on 73 minutes to make a terrific save when Josh Tinker’s whipped cross found the head of Shaw with Smith managing to tip it away at the second attempt. The Linnets goalkeeper pulled off a second terrific save on 81 minutes when he tipped over a rocket of an effort from substitute Carlos Mendes Gomes.
A memorable day was concluded with the supporters clapping off the players at full time having collected six points from their bank holiday weekend.