Runcorn spot-on in normal time and in shootout to advance in cup
Hyde United 1 Runcorn Linnets 1 [Linnets win 4-1 on pens] RUNCORN LINNETS secured a place in the Evo-Stik League’s Integro Cup quarter-finals with another shock victory.
The West Division leaders, enjoying their debut in the competition came from a goal down to stun Premier Division hosts Hyde United at Ewen Fields on Tuesday night.
As in their first round home defeat of another top-flight outfit Warrington Town, Linnets held their nerve under the pressure of a penalty shootout to go through.
Linnets this time scored all four penalties taken while Hyde, having lost apparent control of the tie in its final quarter, saw two attempts saved by Tom Scott, Runcorn’s new goalkeeper signed from Kendal Town.
With fellow keepers Matt Holmes and Dylan Forth on the bench and watching from the sidelines respectively, it was a debut Scott will remember with relish – although he had conceded the penalty, which Hyde duly converted for an interval lead.
All the scoring, even before the shootout, came from penalties, with Louis Corrigan dispatching an equaliser from 12 yards after 74 minutes.
The kick had been set up by a marauding run by Aaron Morris who rode a foul in midfield, for which the perpetrator was booked after an advantage played by the referee, to make his way into the box, only to be clumsily bundled over. Corrigan did the rest to bring Runcorn right back into the contest.
Runcorn, drawing on the experience of their earlier successful penalty sequence against Warrington, did not need to call on Corrigan’s expertise in the decisive exchange. From the moment Danny O’Brien, another of Linnets’ penalty specialists, safely fired home the first of their five scheduled spotkicks, the visitors looked supremely confident. Aaron Morris, Freddie Potter and Bobby Evans were were also unerringly accurate.
Scott’s saves from Hyde’s second and third penalties meant that the shootout was settled early.
Linnets manager Michael Ellison made several changes from the side which had won at Ramsbottom on Saturday.
Defender Jack Hinnigan partnered the club’s Bowland Brewery Player of the Month Morris in central defence while Josh Dobie came into midfield for only his third Linnets starting appearance.
Striker Stuart Wellstead again returned to the ranks following his surprise outing in the previous round of this tournament at Leek Town.
Captain Kyle Hamid resumed in the centre of the park after a one-game suspension. Winger Paul Shanley, having worn the armband at the weekend, was named among the substitutes along with top scorer Potter and Ronnie McCarthy while McCarthy’s midfield colleague Kris Holt and defender Peter Wylie were other notable absentees.
Scott’s first task as a Runcorn player was to paw an early Hyde effort onto his crossbar. Runcorn promptly went close at the other end through a combination of headers by Morris and Dobie at a set-piece.
Linnets had started brightly enough but as a first half of few clear chances wore on, Hyde held firm territorial advantage.
A lapse in concentration in defence ultimately led to Scott downing an opponent for Connor Simpson’s successful 33rd-minute penalty.
Runcorn were again initially penned in after the break but resisted the Hyde pressure without too many alarms.
The introductions of Potter and local lad Ryan Gibson, newly recruited from Helsby FC, provided fresh impetus and suddenly Hyde looked susceptible to the visitors’ growing influence.
Potter set up Gibson on his debut for a shot which was well saved by the diving James Hodges.
Then, a defence-splitting Corrigan pass sent Potter clean through only for Hodges to again deny Linnets, this time by blocking a one-on-one chance.
All the more credit goes, therefore, to Potter for standing up to be counted during the penalties and indeed to the entire Linnets team for their overall resolve over the whole tie.