Hard­cas­tle calls tune as vis­i­tors are too strong for lively Linnets

The Non-League Football Paper - - NPL WEST & NPL EAST - By Dave Bet­t­ley


AN EX­CEL­LENT crowd of 480 took to the Mill­bank Linnets Sta­dium for this crit­i­cal sec­ond vs third clash and wit­nessed a clin­i­cal dis­play from Atherton Collieries who se­cured an im­pres­sive vic­tory to move top of the league ta­ble. With­out ever to­tally dom­i­nat­ing the play, Colls were cer­tainly the more threat­en­ing side through­out while lim­it­ing the threat to their own goal to just the odd high ball into the penalty area that Greg Hart­ley dealt with com­fort­ably. A tight first half was sep­a­rated by a fan­tas­tic free-kick to open the scor­ing for Atherton, Vinny Bai­ley bend­ing a sweet free kick straight into the far top cor­ner of the net from a free kick on the left edge of the penalty area. The pacey and di­rect Ben Hard­cas­tle was in­flu­en­tial in ev­ery­thing that Colls did go­ing for­ward.

The at­tack­ing mid­fielder of­ten nicked the ball from Runcorn and counter-at­tack­ing at pace, cre­ated sev­eral chances for his side and turn­ing in a man-of-the-match per­for­mance. Runcorn ac­tu­ally started the sec­ond half as the bet­ter side and looked to get back into the game. But when Linnets lost the ball in mid­field a light­ning counter at­tack set Ben Con­way in to slam the ball home and make the task for Runcorn an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult one. The game was put to bed late on when Ian Row­lands took ad­van­tage of a static Runcorn de­fence to fire past Dy­lan Fourth and com­plete the rout. Runcorn never re­ally played a mean­ing­ful part in the game and were well beaten by their vis­i­tors in the end.

STAR MAN: Ben Hard­cas­tle (Atherton C) EN­TER­TAIN­MENT: ★★★★★

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