Runcorn Linnets manager Billy Paynter has hailed his players after booking their place in the playoff final after beating Leek Town.
They’ll travel to Workington on Saturday looking to avenge their playoff final defeat to Marine 12 months ago. They repeated history on Tuesday as Louis Doyle, Eden Gumbs and Ryan Brooke were on target.
Linnets, a day after their 17-year anniversary following their formation, are a step away from promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier for the first time in their history.
“Delighted with the result, delighted with the performance, I thought the lads were magnificent from minute one to 96,” Paynter said speaking to Off The Park.
“We wanted a fast start, out of the blocks early, we did that with a well-worked goal from Doyley then another from Eden so two early goals in the game killed Leek and any early momentum and then we were managing the game from there.
“I felt we dealt with the pressure and directness from them and that allowed us to play, they kept doing that and our backline were really solid, winning first contacts but it was more the second balls because Trickett-Smith was picking up a lot of them so it was important we didn’t let him get into the game, we dealt with him perfectly.
“It showed because he came off in the second-half and a change of plan but we were solid enough and countering as they got forward so it could’ve been more for us.”
Following their win, they are in their second final in as many weeks after their Liverpool Senior Cup showdown with Marine.
Neil Young’s side ran out winners on penalties but despite their disappointment, they have responded and Paynter has reiterated that they know what is at stake on Saturday.
He continued: “The boys responded magnificently, the dressing room all season has been spot on. We’ve got a real togetherness and that togetherness has pulled us through some tough times.
“When we achieve something like we did on Tuesday, it feels like the rewards have paid off, we’ve got one game against Workington, it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be a tough game.
“We know the job in hand, sometimes we might have to hang in for some moments then find our way into the game, we’ll have a gameplan, we’ll try execute as best as we can.”
Workington beat Clitheroe 2-0 on Tuesday after a penalty from Conor Tinnion and Dav Symington. Dave Dempsey felt the spot-kick that opened the scoring was contention.
Paynter has urged his players to remain focused throughout the final, he said: “We’ve been up there and we’ve won, we played them at home and they beat us but we’re going up there confident.
“I feel that when we go up there, I’ve spoken to other managers, the referee gives them certain decisions.
“Dave Dempsey [Clitheroe manager] was saying it was never a penalty and it has a common variant that managers and players say the same thing. Not only that, we have to control our emotions, not get involved with the referee and play our game.
“The lads are preparing for a final, if you can’t get up for that then you shouldn’t be on the coach or be in this position. But they’re zoned in, they’re professional in how they prepare, the coach will be in a good mood going up but I want a coach going home bouncing.
“We don’t want to feel like that again and the players know that,” he added on their feelings after the defeat to Marine. “I back my players, back them all season, it’s never a nice way to lose a game on penalties, we’re looking to go up to Workington and do the job in 90 minutes.”