Charnock lost 2-0 at home to Runcorn Linnets and the Academy also lost at Mossie Close 4-1 to New Longton Rovers.
Charnock Richard 0 Runcorn Linnets 2
Saturday 14th April 2018, North West Counties League Premier Division
CHARNOCK RICHARD 0
RUNCORN LINNETS 2
Team: Gavin Bates, Spencer Bibby, Alex Ralph, Ashley Young, Ryan Schofield, Harvey Close (Lewis Pilgrim 88), Mark Woods, Nathan Fairhurst, Carl Grimshaw, Joe Noblet (Alex Dodd 76), Jordyn Fitton (Ben Lightfoot 84). Sub: (Not Used) David Prout.
Runcorn Linnets are odds on for the title and the three points they won in this game took them 10 points clear of Widnes in second place. When Charnock visited the Millbanks Linnets Stadium in January, Charnock suffered their heaviest defeat of the season so far losing 6-2 and in this encounter the visitors once again largely ran the game and Charnock did well to restrict them to just two goals. Linnets missed several good chances before they took the lead in the latter stages of the first half. The second half saw the Villagers create more but the visitors continued to carry a threat and a second goal midway through the half effectively finished the game.
There was just one change to the starting line–up from the team that won on the previous Thursday; Adam Halton was unavailable as was Dan Roccia so veteran Gavin Bates was in goal. Lewis Pilgrim, Ben Lightfoot, Alex Dodd and David Prout made up the bench. James Walker, Ross O’Farrell, Tyler Rufus and Matt Davison remained on the injured list.
The pitch was very soft after further heavy rain since the Thursday evening game and was not really to Charnock’s liking. Linnets took charge from the kick off and there was a scare when Bates failed to hang onto a routine catch. With Charnock struggling to get out of their own half it was a case of the defence hanging on and thanks to some indifferent finishing the Villagers remained in the game during the early stages. Paul Shaney headed over the bar from a right wing corner and Adam Jones should have scored when he met a Potter cross on eight minutes but somehow he shot wide. When Scofield conceded a free kick just outside the area on the left there was confusion in the home defence which continued when Woods failed to control the ball but a shot over the bar finally gave Charnock some relief. Matt Atherton headed over the bar from another right wing corner and it was all one way traffic. Similar to the previous encounter Linnets attacked at speed and the home defence were struggling to cope. It would have helped if Charnock could have kept hold of the ball up front but the strong visiting defenders were dominant. Charnock continued to hang on. Potter had the ball in the net from yet another right wing corner but he used his hand and he was duly cautioned. The visitors finally took the lead on 34 minutes, a ball came in from the left, Bates tried to kick it clear but failed and it bobbed around before Kristian Holt hit the ball into the net from close range. Two minutes later Charnock were caught out down their left but when the centre came in to the unmarked Shaney he shot well wide. On the stroke of half time a diagonal free kick from the left found Schofield at the back post, he headed wide but was offside anyway.
Linnets again largely dominated the second half but Charnock created more in attack and they had just one good chance to level the scores before the visitors increased their lead. The early stages of the half saw the pattern of the game remain the same with the home defence just about coping. Two successive right wing corners were defended with Potter shooting narrowly over the bar from the second. The 66th minute saw Close and Grimshaw set up a shot for Noblet, Charnock’s first worthwhile shot of the game, but it went wide. Noblet then cut down the right and his centre set up a real chance for Fitton running in but the header was poor and the ball went wide. The game was really over in the 72nd minute a ball from the right sailed over Bibby’s head and a shot went across the goal hit the back post and bounced out to Potter who made no mistake. Alex Dodd came on for Noblet on 76 minutes and Ben Lightfoot and Lewis Pilgrim came on in final minutes for Fitton and Close. The closing stages of the game saw Grimshaw head wide from a free kick from the left, he then shot across the face of the goal after he had exchanged passes with Close and finally Carl set up Dodd 25 yards out for shot that took a deflection for a corner.
In the end a 2-0 defeat was respectable considering the pressure that the Villagers had been under for much of the match. Having to play a game only 43 hours after meeting 1874 Northwich did not help the Villagers cause but having said that being elected to the NWCL results in playing considerably more games per season than in previous years so there cannot be any complaints. Linnets were cheered on by a considerable number of supporters and the attendance of 256 was the highest of the season and took the average attendance at Mossie Park so far this season to 149.
With two mid-week fixtures coming up the Villagers will be under considerable pressure, Tuesday 17th sees a visit to Ashton Athletic and a home game against Congleton Town is scheduled for Thursday 19th, both games kick off at 7.45pm. On Saturday 21st April Charnock are at home to Runcorn Town kick off 3.00pm.