Match Preview: Runcorn Linnets (H)
Andrew’s Match Preview
Colne v Runcorn Linnets
Saturday 4th February - 15:00
Colne welcome Cheshire side Runcorn Linnets to Holt House for a Saturday afternoon fixture in the Northern Premier League West.
Runcorn Linnets, were founded in 2006, replacing former Runcorn side Runcorn FC Halton, and play their homes games at the APEC Taxi Stadium. Runcorn Linnets finished in 4th place last season, losing 1-2 at home in the play-off final against Marine. In the head to head, against Colne, both games ended in draws, with Reece Webb-Foster putting the Reds in front at Holt House last January before Thomas Lloyd Marsh-Hughes equalised to secure a point. The reverse fixture in April produced a 0-0 draw. Back in October, Linnets defeated the Reds 2-0 at home thanks to a late goal in the first half from Sam Heathcote and a last minute penalty from top scorer Jamie Rainford.
This season, Linnets have won 11, drawn 6 and lost 7, giving them 39 points from 24 games, which sees them sit in a play-off spot in 5th place. Away from home they have won against Skelmersdale United 4-1, Newcastle Town 2-0, Clitheroe 1-0, Ramsbottom 3-1 and Leek Town 2-0. They have lost at Mossley 0-1, Prescot Cables 0-1, Workington 1-2 and Witton Albion 2-4. A 2-1 win away at Trafford in the FA Cup preliminary round sent them to Marske United where they lost 1-2. Linnets enjoyed a long FA Trophy campaign, winning 2-1 at Workington and 2-1 at North Shields and beating Ossett United 2-1 and Belper Town 3-2 at home, before unluckily succumbing to a 2-3 loss at National League North side Spennymoor Town.
Runcorn Linnets players to watch
34 year old striker Jamie Rainford (Pictured Below) has had plenty of clubs in the North West since beginning his career at Prescot Cables in 2007. Marine, Chester, Halifax, Fylde, Witton Albion, Glossop, Widnes and Ramsbottom have all had the pleasure of his goals. Jamie netted 15 times for Glossop North End last season (included 2 against Colne) before taking up the player/assistant manager role in the summer at Linnets. He has scored 19 times in all competitions already this season.
Ryan Brooke scored a massive 33 goals for Runcorn last season before joining promoted Warrington Rylands in the close season. Things didn’t quite work out for him in the NPL Premier and he returned to the Linnets in October. Ryan began his career in the EFL with Oldham Athletic and has also represented Altrincham, Curzon Ashton, Nantwich and Mossley. The 32 year old has scored 8 times since his return.
Sidi Sanogo Fofana is a Spanish midfielder who joined Linnets in the summer from Macclesfield. Since arriving in England the 23 year old has played for Darwen, Bamber Bridge, Radcliffe and Glossop North End. Sidi has appeared 34 times already this season in all competitions.
Skipper and defender/left back James Short came through Morecambe’s academy. James spent 5 years with Marine and signed for Runcorn from Witton Albion for the 2020/21 season.
Eden Gumbs is a home grown talent who is in his second season in Linnets’ first team. Eden has made the number eleven shirt his own and is a right hand sided attacking player.
After starting out being the youngest goalkeeper to play for Rochdale at just 16, Danny Taberner has spent most of his career with Atherton Collieries in three spells. He also had a couple of years at Northwich Victoria and a short period with City of Liverpool. The 29 year joined Linnets in the summer making 33 appearances this term.
The Linnets are now managed by former Mossley manager and Matlock number two, Dave Wild. He replaced Calum McIntyre, who left to take over at National league North club Chester in May.
Last time out for the Reds
Colne travelled to Stoke-on-Trent on Tuesday evening to catch up on one of their games in hand against 9th placed Kidsgrove Athletic. The Grove had lost 3 of their last 4 and were seriously struggling in front of goal, so hopes were high that the Reds (who played in white), could gain a positive result, if they could replicate their second half showing from Macclesfield just 3 days earlier. Glenn Steel returned to the heart of the defence with Ben Anderson on his left and Tom Hoyle on his right. Ellis Wallbank was preferred on the right hand side of midfield and on the left Luke Stowe made his first start since Fylde away in the FA Trophy back in November. With Craig Carney absent, Lucas Weaver joined Watkinson and Lusiama in attack.
Kidsgrove’s manager Scott Dundas decided to drop his two main strikers from the squad entirely, due to a lack of goals. The Reds couldn’t have got off to a better start when after only 2 minutes Luke Stowe raced up the left wing and across into the Grove area, picking out Enock Lusiama who back heeled the ball home from close range. That lead lasted only 6 minutes when, from a Colne corner, Kidsgrove broke away and a series of passes found Kieran Knapper free on the left and his left foot strike across the keeper levelled the scores. The two sides cancelled each other out for much of the remainder of the half with Luke Stowe looking the most lively of the Colne attacking threat. Before the half was out however Glenn Steel had to come off due to a knee injury and he was replaced by Harry Winstanley in the centre of defence. The away side came out firing once again in the second 45 and took the game to their opponents, but they struggled to produce the quality to get them back in front.
Paul Dugdale replaced Ben Anderson with 15 minutes left and his defensive headed clearance on 82 minutes fell to right-back Kyle Diskin who half volleyed the ball home past the despairing Tom Donaghy in the Colne goal. Danny Kyobe joined the attack in place of Luke Stowe and the Reds threw the kitchen sink at the home side for the remainder of the game in a bid to grab a deserved equaliser, but despite efforts cleared off the line and Brown in Grove’s goal producing important stops, it never came and Phil Brown’s men slipped to their 9th defeat of the campaign.
The loss leaves the Reds in 17th place with 24 points from 23 games. Tom McCann was impressive in the middle of the park for the Reds, but Luke Stowe’s penetrating attacking play down the left earned him the man of the match.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch?
Matty Kardacz is recovering from a grade 1 MCL knee tear, but has been back in training this week. Hakan Burton is back in full training and he is very close to a return. Glenn Steel suffered a knee injury on Tuesday night at Kidsgrove and received bad bruising, which may need resting. His injury is not as bad as first thought. Aaron Turner is awaiting surgery for his knee/MCL issue. Jack Doherty has now had surgery on his ACL injury and will begin his rehabilitation when ready under the watchful eye of Accrington Stanley. This injury has ruled him out for the season.
Glenn Steel may miss out due to his bruised knee, but they have cover with Tom Fagan, Ellis Wallbank and Ben Anderson. Craig Carney is expected to be back and Fagan and Roberts could be involved from the start. Enock Lusiama and Tom Hoyle will be available for their last game before their loans come to an end. Great news that Hakan Burton feels ready to return and the manager will decide whether he starts, or loan keeper Tom Donaghy continues. Hakan has been out with a shoulder injury since the middle of August and with his availability, Phil Brown should have a healthy squad of 18 to choose from.
Despite a great start to the first half of the season, Runcorn Linnets have lost 4 out of their last 6 with 2 draws. They will be looking to get back on track and cement their place in the top 5. In their last away fixture they drew 2-2 with 18th placed Hanley Town, after fighting back from finding themselves two down after 47 minutes, even though they dominated the game. Last Saturday Linnets lost at home to play-off rivals Leek Town 0-1 despite being the better side, and deserving at the very least a point. Their usual mean defence has been leaky of late, so much so that Dave Wild has been opting for playing 5 at the back with 3 centre halves and Brown and Short as wing backs. They have also brought in 21 year old attacking midfielder/striker Matty Birchall form Northwich Victoria last month to help bolster their attack and cover their injury list.
Colne have lost their last 2, both away from home and haven’t won since Boxing Day, when they defeated local rivals Clitheroe 2-1 at home. They haven’t tasted defeat at Holt House however since October, and they will be looking to find a result to help them move away from the bottom 4. They certainly deserved a point on Tuesday night at Kidsgrove, but their lack of prowess in front of goal is starting to bite. The Reds have only scored 24 times in 23 games, the joint lowest in the league, and Enock Lusiama, who with 7 league goals is their leading scorer, will play his last game for the Reds, therefore reinforcements up top are a priority. In their last home game, the Reds came from 2-0 down against Trafford to grab a point with late goals from Lusiama and Carney, and with Linnets’ form starting to turn positive again, a point against a top 5 play off side, would be a good result for Phil Brown’s young lions.
Admission Prices are:
Adults : £9
Concessions : £6
Under 16’s : £1
Under 12’s - Free
Tues 7th February - City of Liverpool v Colne - 19:45 NPL West
Sat 11th February - 1874 Northwich v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Sat 18th February - Prescot Cables v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Tues 21st February - Colne v Glossop North End - 19:45 NPL West
Today’s NPL West games - 15:00
Bootle v Macclesfield
Hanley Town v Clitheroe
Leek Town v Workington
Newcastle Town v Prescot Cables
Ramsbottom United v Glossop North End
Skelmersdale United v 1874 Northwich
Widnes v Mossley
Witton Albion v Kidsgrove Athletic