Runcorn Linnets manager resigns following play-off defeat

Runcorn Linnets have announced the departure of manager Billy Paynter.

Paynter has resigned from his position following the club's Pitching In NPL West Division play-off semi-final defeat to City of Liverpool on Tuesday night.

It is the third season in a row that Linnets have fallen in the play-offs, having tasted play-off final defeat in both of the previous two seasons.

A second-placed finish this term earned them home advantage for the play-offs but City of Liverpool - who only secured play-off football on the final day of the season - upset their hosts thanks to an Elliot Morris double.

Following his resignation, the Linnets boss said: "Finishing second, giving Runcorn Linnets their highest finish in years, was a great achievement and success by all.

"But a few days later, to lose our play-off game was then a season failure.

"And with that failure, I take full responsibility and I will be stepping down as Runcorn Linnets FC manager.

"I wish the club all the best and success in the future."

Paynter made the step up from first team coach to manager in March last year following the departure of Dave Wild.

A five-game league unbeaten run steered the club to a fifth-placed finish last season - but despite producing an impressive display on the road to defeat Leek Town 3-1 in the play-off semi-finals, they subsequently fell to a 2-1 extra-time defeat to Workington, who sealed promotion to the Northern Premier League.

He signed a two-year deal to remain as Linnets boss following the conclusion of the 2022/23 campaign and went on to enjoy a largely positive first full season at the APEC Taxis Stadium.

Paynter's win percentage in regular-season football stands at 53% during his time at the club, while his squad also boasted the strong defence in the league in 2023/24, conceding just 39 goals in 38 matches.

"While everyone was very disappointed at Tuesday's play-off semi-final defeat, the achievement of finishing second in in Northern Premier League West Division should not be underestimated or go without high praise," chairman Peter Cartledge said.

"At many other levels, it would have seen us promoted.

"We also have to remember that Billy took on the role at a very testing time for the club and has conducted himself throughout with integrity, diligence and class.

"In wishing Billy every success for the future, the club will now begin the process of finding and appointing a successor in readiness for next season."

Photo credit: Runcorn Linnets

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