RUNCORN Linnets stretched their unbeaten start in the Pitching In Northern Premier League North West to six matches with a narrow but well-deserved 3-2 win at Kendal Town from a game they bossed, reports David ‘Bill’ Davies

Linnets headed up a damp M6 to the South Lakes with two changes from Tuesday’s thrilling 4-2 victory over Tadcaster Albion.

Iwan Murray started where he’d left off against Albion as attacking intent produced a shot on target that narrowly deflected past the post.

Ally Brown made the first two of many troublesome first-half runs at the left side of the home defence, repelled by Butterfield-Steede and Seydou Bamba, and then Linnets found themselves behind after six minutes.

A seemingly harmless ball from the left to Christopher Humphrey, who still had most of the Linnets defence in front of him, was steadied and struck clean and low inside the right post from 20 yards out.

Rather like Tadcaster’s second goal on Tuesday from a similar position, Nik Bulmer in the Runcorn goal didn’t anticipate a shot where one didn’t seem on.

The goal was a harsh warning sign for the visitors, as Humphrey was to be Kendal’s greatest threat all afternoon.

Going behind was nothing new for Calum McIntyre’s unbeaten men, but once again it neither rattled them nor spurred them on to frantic urgency.

The game plan continues almost as though nothing has happened, and Linnets set about a progressive passing game across the width of the pitch, much of it sparked by Louis Hayes from in front of the back four.

This time, Brown on the right was a driving force in most of what Runcorn created, and they created a lot and Murray was also present in every attack, from left, right and centre.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

Ally Brown was a big attacking threat. Picture by Tom Paul

A spell of incessant Runcorn pressure was building. Brown turned inside Butterfield-Steede, his dipping shot just too high, then Murray beat three men on the right touchline before a cross rebounded off Bamba but was somehow adjudged as a Kendal throw-in.

A first Kendal attack on the break for a while found Charlie Birch on six yards inside the left post, his shot drawing a great point-blank save by Bulmer.

Runcorn attacked yet again, Crilly beating Ngongo and pulling back to Brown in the area but Bamba cleared. A Lindfield-Brooke-Welsh triangle set off Brown wide right again and his cross blocked by Butterfield-Steede.

Then Brown’s industry met its reward. Lindfield’s header from his cross was well saved but Brooke was on hand to bury the follow-up from inside the six-yard box.

The visitors felt that equal terms were less than their domination of the ball deserved, and waves of attacks followed until the break. In a rare Runcorn long-distance effort, Hayes spotted Bacon off his line and shot from almost halfway, but pulled it wide left.

Crilly won the ball near the right corner flag and found Murray at the near post. His low shot was blocked by Bacon, and Lindfield’s follow-up shot swerved past the left post again.

The Kendal ’keeper was becoming vocally irritated by the work his defenders were leaving him to do, but in fairness they were doing a good job in limiting paths to goal for the Runcorn onslaught.

Kendal advances were few before half-time, and they were interrupted by O’Mahony, Hayes and Downes.

The last action of the half was a snap cross from Murray which ran just too fast for Brooke to connect from ten yards out.

The feeling among the travelling fans at half-time was that if the pattern of the game continued, surely their team would prevail.

From the restart, Linnets seized possession and attacked down the slope. Bamba took ownership in the left side of the penalty area but needed too long and was robbed by Murray but Bacon scooped up his low cross at the near post.

Then Brooke advanced through the area, drawing two defenders and the ’keeper. He slipped a pass to the left, evading Lindfield when a shot might have been the better bet.

There was a growing feeling that dominance of possession by the visitors was being devoted to setting up team mates with a sure thing, when the odd speculative attempt on goal might have borne more fruit, as it had done for Kendal’s Humphrey early on.

But the one-way traffic continued – two corners from the left gave Brooke a close-range header that cannoned off a post and after Crilly won a throw on the right, Murray was tripped entering the area.

Referee Matthew Young awarded a free-kick outside the area, presumably because a first foul on Murray had occurred there, with advantage played.

The free-kick was left by O’Mahony and headed out, for Crilly to play it back into the area, where Downes met it near the left post to mark his Linnets debut with the simplest of goals on 52 minutes.

Murray continued to torment Birch and Butterfield-Steede from the right flank but on the break, Kendal ventured into the Linnets third for the first time in the second half.

Humphrey cut inside from the right and played a diagonal ball for Birch to drill a shot into the top right corner.

A vast amount of Runcorn work had achieved no more than level terms.

Normal business was resumed, with wave after wave of Runcorn pressure.

Murray was tripped 25 yards out, Short’s in-swinger for the top right corner kept out well by Bacon, and another Short shot was deflected for a corner.

Brooke headed a Lindfield cross over, but a foul was called anyway.

On the hour, Brown saw a yellow card for stopping Birch’s advance with a trip. Humphrey’s speculative free-kick swung wide left.

Back down the hill, a Murray shot was easy for Bacon, Crilly’s cross was hooked wide by Brooke and Welsh cleared the bar after Lindfield, Brooke, Short and Murray completed eight passes to find him on 18 yards.

Short received another Runcorn yellow after felling Humphrey’s advance at the halfway line. Mr Young had played advantage, but Bamba’s shot had flown well wide and high.

It was a brief interruption to the visitors’ attacking endeavours, and with 18 minutes remaining, Brown flighted a cross for a Brooke/Crilly headed combination to reach Iwan Murray near the left post.

He fired home from the same spot Downes had done – his second goal in a Linnets shirt, four days after his first, putting the Runcorn men ahead once more.

Linnets fans called for shots rather than admittedly impressive passes, feeling that a clearance up to the troublesome Humphrey could still turn three points into one.

Into the last ten minutes, the Kendal No7 was indeed allowed enough time and space for a powerful shot on target, but it was confidently smothered by Bulmer.

On the break from a rare second-half Kendal corner, Spellman broke away for his first attack in a Runcorn shirt. He turned inside Ngongo but the right-back got a vital toe on the ball to intercept.

Barnes saw yellow for halting Murray’s break on halfway with a pull on his arm.

The free-kick reached the penalty area where Brooke’s header cleared Bamba and the advancing Short, before being half cleared by Ngongo for Brooke to chip deftly over the defence, shaving the top of the crossbar.

Stoppage time allowed a final solo run from his own third by Louis Hayes.

He evaded the attentions of three defenders wide left as he awaited support, and won a throw-in ten yards from the corner flag, but it failed to produce another attempt on goal.

The final whistle heralded a measure of relief for the fans of a Runcorn side who had thoroughly dominated the match without putting it beyond the reach of their hosts.

A break from league action comes with a Halloween cross-country trek to Pickering Town in The Buildbase FA Trophy.

Runcorn Linnets: Niki-Lee Bulmer, Ally Brown, James Short, Louis Hayes, Sean O’Mahony, Alex Downes (Carl Spellman 83), Stuart Crilly (Ben Wharton 90), Jacques Welsh, Ryan Brooke, Iwan Murray (Alex Turner 87), Craig Lindfield. Subs not used: Adam Barthram, Scott Lycett.