What Billy Paynter and Paul McNally have said as Runcorn Linnets host City of Liverpool in Northern Premier League playoff semi-final

Runcorn Linnets face City of Liverpool in the playoffs

Runcorn Linnets are looking to win promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division at the third time of asking but City of Liverpool are looking to spoil the party.

Marine in 2022 and Workington in 2023, a historic rise into Step Three of the Football League pyramid has been so close, yet so far for Linnets. Runcorn F.C. Halton were previously in the Conference North and Northern Premier League, prior to their financial troubles but for Linnets, it is unchartered territory.

Many have tipped them to go one better this time around and there is an added sense of desire to eradicate those skeletons, following the recent heartache. They have home advantage and a strong attendance has been billed as they look to extend their topsy-turvy season.

Inconsistency has blighted Linnets this season but they have seemingly turned a corner, going unbeaten in their last eight.

A team who will enjoy spoiling the party is City of Liverpool. Saturday’s draw against Witton Albion secured their place in the top five after Elliot Rokka cancelled out Elliot Morris’ opener.

Each game has been a cup final for the Purps in recent weeks as they pushed to break into the playoffs. After a season with many off-the-field problems, there is an added vigour and determination from the City of Liverpool faithful.

Twice already this season City of Liverpool have reigned victorious at the APEC Taxis Stadium. Most recently in the Liverpool Senior Cup, however, they did win in the league in Halton as two late goals from Xenon Bahula and Danny Mitchley turned the clash on its head after Linnets lead for 50 minutes, thanks to Lewis Doyle.

‘We don’t feel like this again’ – Billy Paynter sends playoff warning as Runcorn Linnets look to make it third time lucky

Billy Paynter says Runcorn Linnets are hungry and ready to go as they look to avenge their playoff final disappointments.

He told Off The Park: “I’m excited, looking forward to it, form doesn’t make a difference in these types of games. It’s a one-off game whoever holds their nerve will succeed.

“We’ve witnessed that disappointment, I said at the end of the playoff final that we don’t feel like this again, we know it’s going to be a tough game against City of Liverpool, they’re a good team and look to punish you with pace in wide areas. But it’s whoever holds their nerve on the day.

“When we’ve played City of Liverpool, we know their players and staff are up for it no matter what. It’s a playoff semi-final, they’ll be fancying their chances but form goes out of the window, it’s what team turns up on the day, who wants it more and who can hold their nerve.”

Linnets avoided a final day upset to already-relegated 1874 Northwich as they romped to a 5-0 win. Despite the strong finish to the campaign, home advantage and finishing second in the table, Paynter insists it means nothing.

He continued: “Lads are hungry, ready to go, in the league we have been in a good run – we’re unbeaten in eight games. It’s been a tough season, we’ve had highs and lows, it’s up to us and our performances to get through it.

“We find ourselves in a good position, sitting second, highest finish that the club has had in years but that doesn’t mean anything until we prove something and win the semi-final and final.”

‘Fearless’ City of Liverpool looking to make history and ruin Runcorn Linnets hopes

Paul McNally says City of Liverpool have no fear going into their playoff semi-final against Runcorn Linnets.

He told Off The Park: “It’s a one-off game and anyone can win. Once you’re in there anyone can win it, you could be the best team in the league and go out – it depends on the night.

“Luck will play a big thing and being competitive, the fact we’re in there, I’m going to enjoy it but I’m made up for the club because everyone truly deserves this. No one believed we could do it but we have.

“We know them, they know us, they’re a very good side. They will start as favourites to go up and rightly so, they’ve been in the playoffs for the last two years. We will see, if we go there and it’s our last game then fantastic, if it’s not and we have two more then great. We will go there with no fear.

“This is the same as every other game, we’ve played Saturday-Tuesday since December so it’s nothing unusual, we’ll go into it how we do with every game.”

Runcorn Linnets vs City of Liverpool tickets

Runcorn Linnets has a capacity of 1,600 at the APEC Taxis Stadium and already, at the time of writing, 1,200 have been sold. Click here to purchase tickets.

Kick-off: Tuesday, April 30, 7:45pm, APEC Taxis Stadium, Runcorn, Stockham Ln, Halton, Runcorn WA7 6JG.

[Featured image: Neil Phillip Thornton]

For enquiries: info@off-the-park.co.uk@OffThePark_