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Women's Football News
We have all followed the fortunes of Leicester City over the past few months in the English Premier League and willed them to become Champions, but look no further than Runcorn Linnets Ladies if you want to read about the remarkable turnaround of a football team, from bottom of the league in 2014-15 to League and Cup double winners in the space of twelve months.
After a productive pre-season, the Cheshire League kicked off on 13th September, Linnets Ladies facing newcomers to the division away at Cheadle Town. Linnets were pegged back after leading 2-0 at half time but showed a determination to go out and win the game 3-2. Further victories within the month of September recorded vital wins, 6-0 over Wallasey Wanderers at the Millbank Linnets Stadium and an equally impressive 2-0 away win at Chester Women FC.
Another three points from the only game played in October came away from home with another victory over Wallasey Wanderers, November came and further league wins over AFC Stockport and then a hard fought away success at Wythenshawe Amateurs kept Runcorn in the top two of the table.
The English weather eventually caught up with Runcorn and put a hold on the momentum they had gathered, sharing the Millbank Linnets Stadium with the men's North West Counties Premier League first team took its toll on the pitch and the only game played in December, a 6-0 away win at Chester City Ladies meant that entering in to the Christmas break, the Linnets remained second in the table, two points behind Crewe Alexandra who had played three games more.
The first league defeat came at the hands of Vauxhall Motors in mid-February, the Linnets took an early 2-0 lead but eventually went down 4-3 to a last minute penalty, a lacklustre defeat that rocked the Runcorn side. A week later, a walkover win was awarded to the Linnets, followed by a top of the table clash away at Egerton FC, in an entertaining game Egerton took the 3 points with a 2-1 win, leaving them clear at the top of the table by 11 points over the Linnets who still maintained three games in hand.
The first weekend in April, Runcorn secured a Challenge Cup Final place by beating Wallasey Wanderers and April proved to be a testing month with seven games in 21 days. The pivotal point of the season came on the weekend of 10th April, Runcorn had just beaten Stockport HNR 3-0 when news filtered through that Egerton had lost to Crewe Alexandra, the Linnets were now eight points behind with three games in hand and knew the league challenge was back in their own hands.
Runcorn got revenge over Vauxhall Motors with a 6-0 win in another midweek fixture, five days later a comprehensive 5-0 home win over Crewe Alexandra narrowed the gap at the top of the table further. Runcorn now faced two midweek games within three days, a 4-2 win sent Chester Women FC away from the Millbank with no rewards for their efforts and a 6-0 victory over Chester City Ladies placed the Linnets one point clear at the top of the table with two games to play.
Devoid of six regular first team players, Runcorn relied on their squad to record a 3-0 away win over AFC Stockport, meanwhile on the Wirral, Egerton went down to a late Wallasey goal, losing the game 2-1 and handing Runcorn the title for the first time in their three years since formation. Runcorn comfortably won their remaining league game, beating a very spirited Wythenshawe side to claim the title by seven clear points.
Manager Julie Makin had announced her retirement just before the Challenge Cup semi final win over Wallasey and with the league title in the bag, Runcorn took on Egerton for the last time in the 2015-16 season in the Final at Barnton FC. The game was played out in searing heat, the Linnets taking an early lead with a goal from Tempany Carlson. Egerton equalised before half time and took a 2-1 lead early in the second half before Runcorn pulled the game level in the 82nd minute when Marcia Jones-Sacharewicz scored from close range. The final entered extra time and with penalties looming, up stepped Jones-Sacharewicz to score with a right foot curling effort from 19 yards to score in the 119th minute to win the final and claim their second trophy of the season, bringing the League and Cup Double back to the Millbank Linnets Stadium.
Runcorn scored a total of 82 goals during the 2015-16 campaign, conceding just 18. Top scorer Megan Pickering bagged a total of 44 goals, closely followed by strike partner, 19-year-old Marcia Jones-Sacharewicz with 36, whilst the team also kept a total of 11 clean sheets during the season.
Manager of three years, Julie Makin leaves the club in good hands, her long time assistant John Pickering taking over the reins hoping to guide the club to further glory in the 2016-17 season.
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