RUNCORN Linnets could close the gap on some of the frontrunners if they can bag a win against Trafford at home on Saturday.

Linnets, currently 11th and six points off the play-off zone in the Northern Premier League North West Division, host the second-placed side on the back of a 1-0 win at Kendal at the weekend.

Connor McCarthy supplemented his strike in the 4-0 victory over the Cumbrians earlier in the season with the winner against the Black and Whites, sealing for Linnets a third successive victory.

McCarthy, after several cameo appearances off the bench, showed signs of performing at his fast, forceful, dogged best, until he gave way to Alex O’Neill after the hour mark.

After mass changes for the midweek Integro Cup tie with Leek Town, Michael Ellison’s selection looked much more like the line-up for the league victories over Brighouse and Widnes.

But Tom Owens was back in the centre of midfield in place of Louis Hayes, and McCarthy started in place of suspended Ryan Gibson.

The visitors showed their intent in the first minute.

A Louis Corrigan free-kick curled in just behind Liam Caddick, whose clever back-heel flick bounced off the top of the bar.

On 10 minutes a Paul Shanley snap shot from a tight angle found the side netting.

The increasingly slick surface was cutting up fast, and Linnets’ quick passing game to feet was not going to get easier, but the seemingly inevitable happened after 16 minutes.

From a lay-off by Shanley, Ally Brown picked up the ball on the right touchline, deftly passed three defenders to the corner flag and crossed sharply for McCarthy to despatch a firm right-footed shot into the bottom right corner.

It was hard to believe that it would be the only goal for the men in away orange, but half a dozen contacts with the woodwork, as many just over the bar, a failed penalty appeal and a string of solid saves by home goalkeeper Bacon ultimately made it so.

Almost half an hour was gone before the hosts had their first attempt on goal, the ball falling high and wide but not by much.

The second half was a very different affair though.

Kendal spent far more time in the visitors’ half in the second period and the chances to score were more even.

Town had a chance to level the score with a minute to go, a free-kick from outside the area on the right clearing two Kendal heads at the far post and going out for a goal-kick.

If this had been a boxing match, though, the referee would have stopped it before half-time.