by Robert Lee · 03/11/2017
Saturday 4 November 2017, NWCFL Premier Division
Runcorn Linnets v West
Millbank Linnets Stadium, WA7 6HP
Adults £6, concessions £4, free for under-16s accompanied by an adult – £1 for unaccompanied under-16s
West travel to Runcorn for the first time this season as they take on second-placed Runcorn Linnets at the Millbank Linnets Stadium.
Steve Settle’s team will be desperate to make amends for the Halloween hammering at home to Bootle but they face an onerous task against the high-flying Linnets, who will be looking to set the record straight themselves after having their wings clipped at Irlam on the same night.
Chappy Massamba will be available for selection before starting a three-match suspension for his dismissal against Bootle, while Tyler Edwards and Jack Sergeant could be in line for debuts as West look to inflict a first home defeat of the season on the Linnets.
|Form (all competitions)
|Stuart Wellstead (12)
|Top scorer (all competitions)
|Tom Bailey (16)
|West v Linnets (NWCFL era): P9, W2, D3, L4, F9, A17
Runcorn Linnets will have been a club particularly pleased to learn of next season’s pyramid restructuring. The Linnets have finished runners-up three times in the last four seasons, missing out on the Premier Division’s sole promotion place to Norton United in 2013-14, Glossop North End in 2014-15 and Colne in 2015-16, the latest by just two points. The Linnets again occupy that familiar second spot as things stand, which would almost certainly be enough to gain admission to the NPL Division One North this time around. Promotion to level 8 would be another step towards emulating the achievements of old club Runcorn FC, members of the Conference North as recently as 2004-05.
But having made another strong start this campaign, their focus will be on reeling in Runcorn Town and finishing top of the pile. The 1-0 defeat to Irlam in midweek should be viewed through the prism of the Linnets playing with nine men for over an hour. West’s Saul Henderson-inspired drubbing on the August bank holiday remains their only other aberration in a season which has seen them rack up 10 wins and 44 goals in 16 games, including September’s eye-catching 5-1 demolition of City of Liverpool.
Ill-discipline, though, could prove to be the Linnets’ Achilles heel as they chase their local rivals. Three weeks prior to their double dismissal in Salford, they had three men sent off as their 1-1 draw away to Hanley Town ended in farce, midfielder Antony Hickey having the dubious honour of seeing red in both matches. On a positive note, forward Stuart Wellstead is the Linnets’ leading scorer this season with 12 goals, scoring ten in a spectacular September that saw him rewarded with the Premier Division’s Player of the Month award.
Off the pitch, the Linnets enjoyed widespread media coverage last month when they welcomed Chinese fan Huang Wenbin to the Millbank Linnets Stadium. Wenbin visited the club after enjoying a trophy-laden spell as manager of Runcorn FC on Championship Manager 01/02.
West swept aside the Linnets in front of a Brookburn Road bank holiday crowd of 484. Saul Henderson’s hat-trick did the damage along with a strike from Nic Evangelinos, while the visitors’ Tom Hardwick saw red for use of an elbow on the stroke of half time.
The quickest route from Chorlton is via the M56, and takes around 30 to 40 minutes. Please check travel news before you set off.
Runcorn East station is around a mile from the ground. Trains run direct from East Didsbury and Manchester Piccadilly stations – please check the National Rail website for times.