WHENEVER Runcorn Linnets face Congleton Town it’s a pretty safe bet that the game will be anything but uneventful and Saturday afternoon’s fixture at the Millbank Linnets Stadium was no different.

Linnets overcame a below-par performance, well-drilled opposition and a floodlight failure to secure three valuable points.

New signing Louis Corrigan was thrown straight in at the deep end by Michael Ellison, playing the full 90 minutes at left back.

Terry Smith, Danny O'Brien, Aaron Morris, Kieran Nolan, Kris Holt and Mark Houghton all returned to the starting 11.

Particularly eye catching was the strength of the Linnets’ bench, with Adam Jones, Matty Atherton, Kyle Hamid, Stuart Wellstead and Freddie Potter all waiting in the wings.

That strength was to pay off in a big way later in the day.

Congleton had a couple of former Linnets in their ranks in defender Jonah O’Reilly and striker Steve Foster.

They also had in their team NWCL journeyman and regular thorn in the Linnets side, Emini Adegbenro. It was ‘Mini’ who gave the Bears a lead inside four minutes.

A rather aimless punt forward drifted towards our goal with Terry Smith backtracking and palming the dipping ball onto the crossbar. The rebound fell kindly for Adegbenro to finished well, first time from a tight angle.

There was little improvement throughout the first half for the home side, Congleton employing a high press that disrupted Runcorn's game plan.

But while Linnets struggled to move the ball around or create chances, they performed well at the back to prevent the visitors from creating further chances.

The only real first-half chance for the Linnets came when Antony Hickey headed over Corrigan’s in-swinging corner from close range when he might have done better.

The first half had been pretty drab but the second half was nothing of the sort!

It was clear that Ellison had given a strong talk to his team at half-time as Linnets came out for the second half a born again side.

The pace, passing and movement was back and Congleton looked troubled.

Kris Holt was very unlucky to have a goal ruled out for a very tight offside decision. Mark Houghton then almost broke the deadlock but was denied by a scrambling clearance from Congleton's goalkeeper, Danny Eccles.

Then, in the 64th minute, a dramatic turn of events unfolded. Paul Shanley made a run at full pace into the Bears penalty area and was brought down, the referee awarding the Linnets a penalty.

There were shenanigans and delaying tactics from Congleton's players, particularly the ‘keeper, but eventually Danny O'Brien began his run up to strike the ball, only for all four of the floodlight towers to fail at once!

It took a short while to diagnose the problem, but some tinkering with the generator then restored power.

It was now almost 5 o'clock - the delay (extended to allow the players to warm up again) lasted almost 45 minutes.

O'Brien once again had to go through the penalty-taking routine. There were more diversionary tactics from Town’s goalkeeper, but close to 50 minutes after his initial, aborted attempt, O'Brien coolly beat the big keeper’s dive to find the bottom corner - levelling the scores.

With renewed belief, and looking the fitter of the sides, the Linnets sensed that victory was on.

Corrigan's exquisite free kick from 25 yards curled towards the top corner, only for Eccles to pull off an outstanding save at full stretch.

But another stunning strike a minute later was to find the back of the Congleton net.

Immediately after the equaliser, Ellison had brought on Freddie Potter and Stuart Wellstead for Hickey and Houghton.

Wellstead gave the Linnets the lead, volleying in a loose ball from 20 yards after catching his left-footed strike perfectly.

The MLS had erupted and the atmosphere was buzzing. Linnets followed up with the killer, third goal a minute later.

Congleton had played the offside trap very well all afternoon, but a non-descript ball forward caught them out completely and Freddie Potter strode into 30 yards of space, rolling the ball under the advancing goalkeeper’s legs.

The home side continued to look for further goals, never content with the lead they had.

However, the Bears almost grabbed a goal back when Adegbenro lobbed Smith only for a combination of Corrigan and Jimmy Moore to pull off an unbelievable goal line clearance.

The determination in the Runcorn side was further displayed in injury time when midfielder Kieran Nolan ran fully 60 yards to make a perfectly-timed tackle by the corner flag.

Runcorn Linnets: Terry Smith, Louis Corrigan, Aaron Morris, Jimmy Moore, Danny O’Brien, Kieran Nolan, Kris Holt, Michael Simpson, Mark Houghton, Paul Shanley, Antony Hickey. Subs: Freddie Potter, Stuart Wellstead, Kyle Hamid. Not used: Matt Atherton, Adam Jones.

Attendance: 375.