Runcorn Linnets Ladies 0 Wallasey Wanderers Ladies 0

LINNETS were held by a courageous 10-woman Wanderers team who will be disappointed not to have left the Millbank Stadium with all three Cheshire League points.

With four absentees, Runcorn manager John Pickering stressed to his players the last three weeks of the season was time to stake claims for a League Cup Final place.

But the Linnets didn’t respond to their manager’s words and while Linnets looked flat, as if they were playing in a meaningless end-of-season encounter, Wallasey showed more desire, grit and determination in compensating for their numerical disadvantage.

Linnets had some early opportunities, Chelsea Gillies finding space in the third minute, her effort taken easily by visiting keeper, Seager.

Tempany Carlson on five minutes blazed wide when put through on goal and top scorer Megan Pickering did likewise two minutes later.

Carlson struck the bar on 14 minutes; no one initially reacting to the rebound, Lile Ashley eventually hitting it high and wide.

In the 20th minute, a gilt-edged opportunity was missed by the home side after some very good approach play involving Ashley, Player of the Match Becky Barker and Carlson.

When the latter played a good ball across the box, Pickering from six yards must have thought she had scored but some how ‘keeper, Seager made up ground to palm away.

A minute later, Pickering had another effort well saved by Seager, down to her left post. But, after this, the home side went off the boil and further chances were few and far between.

Wanderers put pressure on the Linnets rearguard early in the second half, forcing four corners in quick succession. Defensively, the home side dealt with most of what the visitors could throw at them.

Carlson succumbed to a hamstring injury on 68 minutes, Beth Graham returning to the game, the change disrupting the balance to an already out-of-sorts Runcorn team, further reshuffling being required.

It didn’t help when Barker came off with severe cramp on 80 minutes and the stalemate was ultimately inevitable.

This was possibly the poorest Linnets display of the season, and probably for some time, but that takes nothing away from the Wallasey performance.

Manager John Pickering will feel he gained precious little from this game and be very disappointed the opposition showed the kind of commitment he wanted from his own players.

Runcorn Linnets Ladies have pride, however; they will know they let themselves down personally and collectively and be keen to make amends.

Pickering said: “Defensively we stood firm, I can’t say we were particularly great but we did remain focused at the back.

“I thought skipper Nat Pinnington and central defender Sadie Bond both had a decent game, the latter with some excellent last-ditch tackles when we were under pressure.

“Midfielder Chelsea Gillies put in a committed performance to impact the game where she could. Kim Roberts was forced to play in three different positions today and was influential as ever but lacked the support she craved.

“Becky Barker was voted PoM for her strong performance, but overall this was not a good day at the office - too many players didn’t show enough fight.

“I can only hope we can put this game behind us and make amends next week away to Stockport HNR.”

The manager added: “On a positive note, the point takes us back to third in the league above Witton Albion and we did manage to keep a clean sheet.

“If we had converted some of the excellent efforts we created in the early parts of the first half, we would have seen a completely different game. But hats off to Wallasey’s Seager for some excellent goalkeeping.”

Runcorn Linnets: Nat Pinnington, Mary Rossiter Gurrell, Sadie Bond, Jo Finnegan, Nichola Hyland, Beth Graham (Kim Roberts 31), Rebecca Barker, Chelsea Gillies, Lile Ashley (Megan Pickering 56), Megan Pickering (Beth Coppin 31), Tempany Carlson (Beth Graham 68) Sub (not used): Ana Duran Anca.