Reds have edge in title six-pointer

Colnes on-loan Burnley keeper Tony Aghayere claims a high ball against Runcorn Linnets
Colnes on-loan Burnley keeper Tony Aghayere claims a high ball against Runcorn Linnets

Colne boss Steve Cunningham has set his side the target of winning their last eight games if they are to win the North West Counties Premier Division.

The Reds beat leaders Runcorn Linnets 2-0 with two Jason Hart goals at the XLCR Stadium on Saturday in front of a bumper crowd of 554, to move within two points, with a game in hand.

And Cunningham feels Colne have to keep their foot on the pedal now: “We need to win all of our eight matches if we are to win the league, as we know Linnets won’t drop many points and the pressure is still very much on.

“I’m taking things one game at a time, every game gets bigger and harder as we get closer to the end, especially as this is new territory for us.

“I’ve doubted the lads’ character at times, but they’ve proven me wrong and recently we’ve shown that we are now capable finishing on top spot.”

And he was thrilled with the occasion and performance on Saturday: “I was over the moon, not just because of the win, but because it was such a great day for the club. It showed how far we’ve come in just two years and I’m so proud of my players for standing up and answering everything that was thrown at them.

“The stadium had a big game feel to it, and when I came out of the dressing room and heard the roar I knew something special was going to happen.

“The fans were like a 12th man and we need to build on that support now.”

Goalscorer Hart added: “To beat the league leaders in the manner in which we did shows that we are more than capable of progressing in the North West Counties.

“Bearing in mind there’s still a long way to go before the end of the season, I’m sure we could win every game between now and May and that’d secure us the title.

“We’ve always been a brilliant side but against Runcorn Linnets we were at our best.

“We’ve had some silly results this season but hopefully the win will spur us on to the title in May.”

In an even first half, a midfield battle developed in which Colne more than held their own. And when the visitors did create chances, the Reds defence were equal to the task, with Alex Coleman outstanding.

Colne pressed just before half-time, but with no end product, the scores were level at the interval.

The Reds got their reward after 58 minutes when Hart won a free kick close to the corner flag. The ensuing ball to the far post was knocked back into the middle by Danny Boyle, and Hart volleyed home from 12 yards.

Colne went further ahead with an excellent goal after 73 minutes when Simon Nangle’s ball out of defence released Hart on the left, and he outpaced his marker before firing past the keeper.

Two minutes later, however, Colne were reduced to 10 men when Ben Hoskin was sent off for his second yellow card, for his involvement in a fracas after keeper Tony Aghayere had been fouled.

Runcorn Linnets pushed forward in the closing stages, but Colne might have added a third goal on the counterattack when the ball was cleared to Spencer Jordan, who found Boyle wide on the right, and his cross to Hart at the far post was headed just wide.

Tuesday night’s game at home to Atherton Collieries was postponed. On Saturday, Colne are at home to Ashton Athletic, before they travel to Winsford United on Monday evening.

l The XLCR Stadium has passed the Ground Grading criteria for the Evo Stik League, should the Reds be promoted.