Tom Clarke reports as Mariners win it at the Linnets in dramatic fashion…
Marine progressed to the Third Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup by beating Runcorn Linnets via penalties on a sodden Saturday afternoon at the Millbank Linnets Stadium.
There were familiar faces aplenty in the Linnets squad, namely the sextet of Paddy Wharton, James Short, Peter Wylie, Scott Lycett, Josh Brizell and Kurt Sherlock. Wharton was tested regularly early on in the encounter, striker Mo Touray forcing the goalkeeper into several smart saves in the opening exchanges.
Danny Shaw was called into the line-up at the last minute after an injury to David Raven in the warm-up and operated as part of a back three alongside Adam Hughes and Anthony Miley, Mikey Howard and James Barrigan playing as wing-backs. Howard never shirked an opportunity to get forward, and the ex-Morecambe man struck the post on 24 minutes after Touray spotted his run down the right-hand side to play him in on goal.
The Mariners continued their onslaught when Wharton was forced into two great stops in quick succession on the half-hour mark. Neil Kengni raced down the left before squaring for Niall Cummins, whose shot was tipped round the post for a corner, which eventually fell to Alex Doyle on the edge of the Linnets box. Doyle fired an effort at goal but it was denied by the 20-year-old custodian.
Although the new hybrid pitch at Runcorn took the torrential downpour well, it dampened the game considerably going into half time as chances were reduced to a premium. However, Captain Cummins snatched the first goal of the game nine minutes after the restart after being played in near the penalty spot, the striker lashing the ball under Wharton to open the scoring.
Bayleigh Passant was forced into a strong save of his own on 68 minutes, when Linnets broke through the otherwise resolute back line of Shaw, Hughes and Miley.
The hosts pushed on to find an equaliser to save their FA Cup campaign going into the final moments of the game, and they won a penalty deep into stoppage time when referee Nik Storey adjudged a Linnets forward to have been pulled down in the box. Sherlock stepped up and dispatched his spot kick out of Passant’s reach to ensure the game was destined for some more spot kicks.
Linnets went first and dispatched their penalty again, before Hughes was first to step up for Marine, confidently striking his one past Wharton. Linnets scored their second, and make-shift wing-back Howard responded by burying his as well.
The home side missed their third, giving another make-shift wing-back in James Barrigan the chance to put the Mariners ahead. Barrigan made no mistake, and the hosts missed their fourth penalty as well. Cummins had the chance to seal the deal for Marine, but saw his effort saved.
Runcorn scored their next, but Josh Hmami was last in Marine’s blue away strip to take a penalty, with another shot at sending the Mariners into the hat for the next round. Just as he scored the winner in the Preliminary Round, Hmami sent the boys in blue into ecstasy by making no mistake from the spot.
The draw for the next round will take place on Monday afternoon, with ties to be played Tuesday 13th October. Neil Young’s men now face a trip to Widnes on Wednesday evening as their attentions switch back to the league in a 7.45pm kick-off.
Runcorn Linnets: Paddy Wharton, Ally Brown, James Short, Jacques Welsh, Peter Wylie, Scott Lycett (Stuart Crilly, 82), Iwan Murray, Alex Turner (Joe Nolan, 58), Ben Wharton, Ryan Brooke, Adam Barthram (Kurt Sherlock, 64).
Unused subs: Louis Hayes, Josh Brizell.
Marine: Bayleigh Passant, Alex Doyle, James Barrigan, Adam Hughes, Anthony Miley, Danny Shaw, Mikey Howard, Josh Hmami, Niall Cummins, Mo Touray, Neil Kengni (Kenny Strickland, 74).
Unused subs: James Ellison, James Devine, Ryan Wignall, Germano Mendes.
Goals: Niall Cummins (54), Kurt Sherlock (90+5, pen).
Referee: Nik Storey. Assistant referees: Jack Lambert, James Wright.
|Millbank Linnets Stadium|