New Runcorn Linnets manager Billy Paynter says he is pleased to be given the opportunity and insists they must embrace the challenge against Kidsgrove Athletic this weekend.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a week at the APEC Taxis Stadium. On Saturday, they were edged out against playoff rivals Clitheroe and just a matter of days later, Dave Wild was dismissed from his role at the helm for gross misconduct.
As a result, Paynter took charge with Jamie Rainford accompanying him as his assistant. The 37-year-old joined in the summer as part of the former Matlock Town assistant’s backroom staff after Calum McIntyre left for Chester.
The shock dismissal sent shockwaves across the region as Linnets embark on their final league games looking to secure playoff football for a second successive season but the decision marked the 10th managerial change in the Northern Premier League West this season.
Paynter enjoyed a successful professional career playing over 400 games for the likes of Port Vale, Swindon Town, Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion to name a few. Now, his focus is on securing that Linnets’ season continues beyond the regular campaign.
“It’s a vital time of the season,” Paynter said speaking to Off The Park. “I’m really pleased to be given an opportunity. Runcorn is a fantastic club with fantastic support, the five remaining games of the season as a squad and as a team, we want to repay the fans for their support this season.
“In football you’ve got to move on quick, managers come and go, we’ve got to move on quickly now and the main focus is Kidsgrove. We’ve been working on and watching videos, our main priority is getting three points, getting the right team out to do that.
“I’ve been at the club since the start of the season, done a lot of working on the coaching side and helping out,” he continued. “For the players, it’s nothing foreign coming in, they all know me, they all get on well with me and we just keep on moving forward.”
His first match in charge comes against Kidsgrove Athletic, a team who haven’t lost since the beginning of February, and the Grove will be looking to apply pressure on the playoff pack, especially Linnets.
They are looking to close the gap from five points to two and for Paynter’s side, he will be hoping to claim a win at the first time of asking with Witton Albion and Mossley lurking behind.
“The end of the season and this period, there will be a few shock results that probably won’t go your way, other teams might help you out.
“Our main focus, mostly this season, has been what’s been in our dressing room and I fully back our players this year to get into the playoffs.
“Now we’re looking over our shoulder because teams are applying pressure but it’s still in our hands and Kidsgrove is a tough game, very strong at home but I think we’ve got a good enough squad to compete and get the result.
“It’s a good pressure for the players, it’s a good challenge that they should embrace. These are the type of games that you can showcase your quality and talent, Kidsgrove will be going out to win the game because if they win they close the gap on us in that playoff position.
“If we were to get the victory, it gives a gap between them but it also counts down the games, putting pressure on other teams in and around us.
“I’d just like to say your support so far this season has been fantastic,” Paynter said in a message to supporters. “We want it to continue for the next five games, the players and the staff will always try and give the best for the club – let’s finish strong.”