LINNETS Ladies threw away their long unbeaten Cheshire Women’s League run after allowing 2-0 and 3-2 leads to slip away.

They were left licking their wounds as a last-gasp penalty secured a shock victory for Vauxhall’s, punishing Runcorn for a glut of wasted chances in a game they should have won handsomely.

Early signs looked positive as player of the game Mandy Kennedy set up Marcia Jones-Sacharewicz to score with only 19 seconds on the clock. Two minutes later, the advantage was doubled as Kennedy regained possession to send Megan Pickering through to score.

The visitors continued with their high, quick pressing game and, but for misses by winger Tempany Carlson and Jones-Sacharewicz, victory could have been sealed inside the opening 10 minutes.

As Vauxhall’s started to settle, the speed of Amy Whittle asked one or two questions which centre half Sadie Bond readily answered with a well-timed tackles.

The hosts, however, got themselves back into the game on 14 minutes; a ball to the right of the area left Linnets’ defence flat-footed, a quick cross being converted. ’Keeper Nat Pinnington was left standing but Carlson looked to have been caught by a late challenge in attempting to clear.

Although caught offside far too often, Linnets thought they had scored again when the impressive Kim Roberts cut inside on the left for Jones-Sacharewicz to intelligently keep the ball moving. Carlson came in from the right to unleash a shot, which rebounded off the crossbar with Pickering putting the follow-up wide.

At the start of the second half, Linnets made a formation change, leaving Jones-Sacharewicz up top with Pickering dropping into midfield alongside Kennedy, and Chelsea Penny adopting the No.10 role.

Linnets played the ball back from the kick-off and sloppy passing led to a cheaply-conceded corner. From the set-piece, poor defending allowed a free header at the near post for the home side to level, on 47 minutes.

Vauxhall’s had the ascendency, pushing the Linnets back. Around the hour, Linnets regained a foothold but were foiled by further misses, from Carlson and Pickering.

Left-back Mary Rossiter-Gurrell returned from a four-week absence with an ankle problem - replacing Nichola Hyland, who had suffered a back injury.

Despite more profligacy in front of goal, the Linnets went back in front on 71 minutes, with Vauxhall’s defender Leanne Pressley being credited with an unfortunate own goal after Penny and Carlson had engineered a shooting chance for Pickering. Her scruffed effort bounced off the ’keeper and two before finding the net.

Jones-Sacharewicz skilfully created a chance for herself but shot over while Penny’s free-kick was off target. With 12 minutes remaining, the visitors made another substitution, Ellie Isherwood coming on for her debut on the left in a straight swap for the hard-working Roberts.

Defensively, the Runcorn back four had worked hard all game, but in the 80th minutes Vauxhall’s equalised again. One of their forwards picked up the ball 25 yards from goal, being allowed to carry the ball into the box and riding challenges from Bond and Tish Collins, before firing across Pinnington for a well-taken goal.

Both sides fashioned further openings but with the game ebbing out, the home side made one more effort on the Linnets’ goal.

With Whittle again ghosting past challenges, Collins came across to challenge the striker and the referee had no option but to award the spot-kick, comfortably converted past Pinnington.

At the final whistle, the home side celebrated becoming the first team this season to take points off the Linnets, who need to quickly get the disappointment out of their system and prepare for Cheadle Town Ladies’ visit to the Millbank Linnets Stadium on Sunday, February 28th (ko 2pm).

Linnets Ladies: Pinnington, Evans, Collins, Bond, Hyland (Rossiter-Gurrell), Roberts (Isherwood), Kennedy, Penny, Carlson, Pickering, Jones-Sacharewicz (Roberts). Subs not used; Lorna Bratt, Steph Woods-Hughes.