MANAGER John Pickering needn't have worried at being forced to field a vastly-understrength team as Runcorn Linnets Ladies beat Egerton 7-3 to preserve their 100 per cent record and pole position in the Cheshire Women's League Premier Division.

No fewer than 11 players were unavailable for the team's first league encounter for seven weeks.

Such is Runcorn's strength in depth, the Millbank Linnets Stadium contest was over and done with by half time.

Jess Bazley wriggled through the Egerton defence in the second minute to score from the tightest of angles.

Egerton's pacy forward tested the Runcorn defence with a mazy run of her own in the 11th minute but didn't trouble 'keeper Megan Pickering.

Bazley's deflected shot made it 2-0 in the 13th minute.

Then, four minutes later, Ellie Dyson broke down the left, delivering a perfect cross into the path of Demi Lee Rogers for number three.

The Linnets forced no fewer than seven corners in a sustained period of pressure which saw a Dyson shot hit the underside of the bar.

Then, in probably the best move of the game, Molly Hewitt played the ball in from the right flank with Lile Ashley's astute backheel putting the ball on a tee for Ellie Dyson to open her Linnets goal account in the 36th minute.

The visitors were still a danger as a free kick a minute later caused some alarm.

The game flowed freely as Ashley made it five with a super strike from outside the box before Egerton responded with an excellent goal themselves.

Runcorn, leading 5-1 at half-time but turning around to face the slope with a strong wind blowing into their faces, showed their intent early in the second half.

Dyson increased the Linnets lead five minutes in.

Another excellent strike by an Egerton forward three minutes later reduced the visitors' arrears.

Egerton's more direct approach was now causing the Linnets problems and with strikes against their woodwork, Runcorn were lucky not to concede again in arguably Egerton's best spell.

However, Lile Ashley broke into the penalty box on 68 minutes, converting the rebound off her own cross to make it 7-2.

Egerton were not finished as a home defender was forced to bring down the advancing Egerton forward.

The referee had no option but to point to the spot seven minutes from time and the penalty kick was converted.

The Linnets' understrength side certainly didn't let their manager down.

Player of the match Jess Bazley and Chelsea Gillies orchestrated the play from midfield.

The experienced trio of Barker, Collins and Graham kept young Molly Cawley, in an unfamiliar left back role, under their wings.

It was also great to see Ellen Johnston's return to the club, although she wasn't registered in time to play in this fixture.

Runcorn Linnets Ladies: Pickering, Cawley (Russell 60), Collins, Barker, Graham, Rogers (Hewitt 88), Gillies, Bazley, Hewit (Cawley 75), Dyson, Ashley.