The league schedule threw up a second fixture against top six opposition in the space of five days for Cables as they hosted league leaders Runcorn Linnets on Saturday. While the eventual score line, 2-1, would be the same as it had been a few nights earlier against Mossley, the manner of the victory could not have been more different.
This game had been billed as a ‘six-pointer’; Linnets sat top of the table, six points ahead of Cables, a win for the Pesky Bulls would therefore get us to within three points of the leaders with a game in hand. The games importance was magnified by the size of the crowd who were treated to a typical ‘derby-like’ game. Hope Street can be an absolute fortress on days like this and Saturday was no exception. The fans were loud and proud, answering the pre-match call to “make the place bounce”.
It was however, the visitors who took an early lead in the 3rd minute after Jordan Southworth gave away a free kick at the edge of the box. The resultant free-kick was a low driven shot which, despite keeper Kyle Haslam getting a hand to it, beat him at the near post.
What followed was typical derby football; frenetic and fiercely contested as both teams looked to control the midfield area. However, the game turned in the 13th minute when Freddie Potter was shown a straight red card for violent conduct as he appeared to strike out at Cables skipper James McCulloch following a challenge by the Cables centre half.
Cables were now keen to press home their man advantage and began to assert pressure upon the Linnets penalty area. James Edgar was excellent again as he pushed on down the left-hand side. Aaron Turner and Jordan Southworth both shot over the Linnets’ crossbar before Edgar also narrowly shot over the bar from consecutive freekicks from Southworth.
Cables’ pressure eventually paid off in the 42nd minute, but not without a touch of controversy and drama. With both Josh Klein-Davies and then Southworth firing shots across the Linnets keeper the ball appeared to have been smuggled in by Valter Fernandes. The referee deemed that the Linnets defender, Mchael Simpson had handled the ball on the line and had no hesitation in showing another red card, meaning that Linnets were down to nine (9) men. Chris Almond was perhaps the calmest man in the ground as he calmly smashed home the resulting penalty high to goalkeeper Dylan Forth’s right-hand side. At the break Cables were level, justifiably so.
The second half was one of attack vs defence as Cables looked to kill off the nine men of Linnets who themselves looked to cling on for a point which, under the circumstances would surely feel like a win.
Chris Almond had a goal ruled out for offside in the opening minutes of the half while Jack Lenehan forced a good save from the Runcorn ‘keeper with a strike from distance in the 54th minute.
Linnets were determined to stretch Cables with their pace at every opportunity they had to break out of their own half and it was they who nearly regained the lead when Kyle Haslam more than made up for the goal he conceded in the opening minutes by making himself big to deny Linnets’ pacey winger Kristian Holt, James Edgar clearing the rebound. Nerves were beginning to show as both Michael Monaghan and Valter Fernandes were shown yellow cards for fouls as a physical Linnets side sought to snatch the game.
It was Cables though who got a hard-earned winner in the 78th minute, and what a well worked goal it was too. The build up to the goal will live long in the memory as the ball was worked across the back four from right to left before Chris Almond picked up the ball in the centre circle and drove Cables forward. Almond passed the ball out wide again to Fernandes who was having another excellent game as he bombed forward with freedom. The cross into the box took a flick off a Linnets defender before landing at the feet of Monaghan. The forward was able to take a touch and compose himself before curling a low shot into the bottom corner. It may have taken a slight deflection on its way in, but frankly nobody cared, cue pandemonium in both the stands and on the pitch, the sense of relief amongst the home fans was tangible. (I think the phrase is “worth the entrance fee alone”).
The last ten minutes saw Cables attempt to play ‘keep ball’ and manage the game to a finish and while Linnets caused a few concerns from long throws, the Pesky Bulls held on for the three points.