Charnock lost 6-2 at Runcorn Linnets with Carl Grimshaw scoring both of the Charnock goals.
Both the Reserves and Academy games were postponed.
Runcorn Linnets 6 Charnock Richard 2
Saturday 20th January 2018, Hallmark Security League Premier Division
RUNCON LINNETS 6
CHARNOCK RICHARD 2
Att : 353
Team: Adam Halton, Spencer Bibby, James Walker, Ross O’Farrell, Ryan Schofield, Ashley Young, Matt Davison, Nathan Fairhurst (Joe Noblet 69), Carl Grimshaw, David Sherlock (Jon Hession 45), Anthony Hough (Alex Ralph 59). Subs: (Not Used) Gavin Bates, Harvey Close.
Runcorn Linnets have missed out on promotion several times in recent season and their record this season, leading the table by 10 points following this win, suggests that come August they will be competing in the Northern Premier League. Their record of having scored 60 goals in 25 league games so far this season illustrates their ability to find the net and Charnock never really got to grips with their attack. Two goals down after only 15 minutes, Charnock could ill afford to have to play 60 minutes with only ten men but that was their task after Spencer Bibby received his marching orders on 29 minutes. It could have been a case for Charnock bringing on another defender and trying to keep the deficit as small as possible but as we have learnt over the 17 years that manager Andy Westwell has been in charge, that it not his style and the Villagers attacking efforts were finally rewarded with two late goals to make the defeat a little less emphatic than it might have been.
There was only one change to the starting line-up from the team that beat Ashton Athletic the previous week, Matt Davison replaced Joe Noblet on the right of midfield. Jack Sanders had departed to try his luck at Padiham and there was a doubt about Adam Halton who had been ill overnight so Gavin Bates joined Noblet, Jon Hession, Alex Ralph and Harvey Close on the bench.
Despite all the recent rain the pitch was perfectly playable although it cut up somewhat. The rain that had been falling all morning ceased and it was an overcast, cold afternoon but there was no wind. Halton declared himself fit to start and Charnock won the toss so the Linnets kicked off in front of a very impressive crowd of 353.
You cannot however take anything away from this excellent Linnets side that carried a goal threat with every attack, and there were many, that they launched. On the previous Saturday it had been some excellent defending that had been the basis of Charnock’s win over Ashton Athletic but the same four defenders were almost overwhelmed in the half hour that they played together. Less than three minutes were on the clock when a simple ball over the top exposed the visiting defence and although Halton came out of his area to block the forward the ball was laid off and Michael Simpson had a simple task of shooting into the unguarded goal. Charnock made some attempts to produce their passing game but the home side were very direct, not just hitting the ball forward without any real purpose but accurately and with plenty of pace up front and support from midfield, the Villagers was getting overrun time and time again. The second goal came on 15 minutes when Ryan Schofield slid into a tackle inside the area and missed the ball but fouled the man. O’Brien made no mistake from the penalty spot. There were glimpse of the football that Charnock can produce but only once did they threaten the home goal. On 22 minutes a great cross field ball provided Davison with a chance to cut in from the right and keeper Terry Smith had to go full length to turn his shot away for a corner. The corner kick caused confusion in the home penalty area but nothing came from it. Linnets continued to dominate the game and Potter fired narrowly wide when O’Brien centred from the right. Then the ball was scrambled clear in the Charnock penalty area as the home team looked to increase their lead. The situation became even worse for the Villagers when Bibby chased a pass on the right the defender beat him to the ball and Spencer slid into him. It was no real surprise when the referee produced a red card on 29 minutes. Three minutes later a left wing corner saw Halton come out and fail to reach the ball and Potter headed home, disappointing for the keeper but he was not 100% and he made several important saves later in the game. Charnock, playing without a recognised right back, managed to survive the remainder of the half but failed to test the home goalkeeper.
There was a change at half time with Jon Hession replacing David Sherlock, as true to reputation Charnock went all out to try and get something from the game. It almost paid off as Hession went clear only 20 seconds into the half but as Smith advanced he hit the ball just past the post. It was a chance a little too early for a player who had just come into the game. Charnock had made a bright start to the second half but as often in cases like this, the opposition scored to take the wind out of the Villagers’ sails. Halton had already saved a header from Shaney before a diagonal ball exposed the left side of the Charnock defence and a simple cross to Potter left him with an easy chance to beat Halton. A back pass then put Halton under pressure and he scuffed a clearance to Shaney who advanced into the area but put his shot wide of the far post. Alex Ralph came on for Anthony Hough after 59 minutes. Charnock were charging forward looking to score and with Davison more interested in attacking down the right there was no sign of him when Linnets broke down their left, Shaney crossed to Potter and it was another easy opportunity for him to complete his hat-trick. Only 66 minutes on the clock and Charnock were losing 5-0; Walker then got back to produce a fine tackle in the area to prevent the home side scoring again. Joe Noblet replaced Nathan Fairhurst on 69 minutes and Halton produced a fine save to keep the score down. Charnock were now fully committed to attack and after several attempts they finally pulled a goal back on 76 minutes. A free kick from close to the halfway line was hit home by CARL GRIMSHAW and they came close again, a shot hitting a post before Linnets broke clear on 85 minutes with only one defender facing four forwards it was a forgone conclusion and substitute Mitchell Bryant made it 6-1. There was some further satisfaction for the Villagers on 89 minutes when Davison did well down the right and his centre was headed home by GRIMSHAW to make the final score 6-2.
Only two years ago Charnock were competing at Step-7, it has been a remarkable achievement this season to be up amongst the leading teams two steps higher but this game illustrated the standards that they must achieve if they are to challenge for honours at his level. Charnock showed plenty of spirit by competing right up to the final whistle and will have gained some valuable experience from this encounter.
The Villagers are back in action again this coming Tuesday 23rd January when they travel to the Townfield Ground at Barnton to play Northwich Victoria, kick off 7.45pm, and then on Saturday 27th January they are at home to Barnton, kick off 3.00pm.