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UPDATED with pictures: AFC Blackpool 0 St Helens Town
10:20pm Monday 11th March 2013 in Sport
St. Helens Town earned a valuable point on Saturday, with a goalless draw at AFC Blackpool’s Jepson Way ground, but it should have been three points.
Charlie Stoker, Town’s 16-year old striker, was wrestled to the ground in the penalty area with a tackle any of the Saints’ forwards would have been proud of yet no penalty was awarded and Town were left with a 0-0 draw to reward their efforts, which lifts them level on points with fellow strugglers Squires Gate, but with two precious matches in hand ahead of their “six-pointer” at Edge Green Street on 23 March.
Both teams were depleted by injuries and illness and the first half was totally forgettable as a spectacle. However, within three minutes of the re-start, St. Helens went on the attack and produced three good chances, two of which fell to Phil Williams. Unfortunately, he hit both shots narrowly wide of, first, the right post, then the left. Sandwiched in between, Lee Crompton’s header from a corner landed on top of the home net.
The game drifted along in a midfield stalemate for 15 minutes before Danny Wright hit a shot wide from 25 yards, but then Stoker set to work and he tormented the Blackpool defence with a series of mesmerising runs, any of which on another day might well have produced a goal. AFC Blackpool simply could not handle him, other than in a literal sense.
He was unlucky not to be given a free kick on 65 minutes when blatantly shoved off the ball just outside the penalty area but, three minutes later, he was brought down unceremoniously by the centre-back Vaughan, already on a yellow card, right under the referee’s nose with the home keeper clearly at sixes and sevens, in as clean cut a penalty decision one is ever likely to see.
A minute later, Stoker went through again on the goalie, but could not find the net from a tight angle and keeper O’Boyle smothered the shot. With ten minutes remaining, Cole Ashton made a great break down the left wing, passed to Stoker, but he could only find the side netting. Shortly afterwards, Stoker again saw his headed effort saved by O’Boyle, this being Town’s last chance to snatch a winning goal.
As the dying minutes ebbed away, the Fylde side had only a couple of half-chances, both well covered by the St. Helens defence.
Congleton are the visitors to Edge Green Street on Saturday, with away trips to Alsager on Tuesday and AFC Liverpool (at Prescot Cables’ ground) on Thursday, to come before the Squires Gate showdown on Saturday week.
Town’s Youth team recorded a fine 3-1 victory over Ashton Athletic Youth at Bobbies Lane on Sunday afternoon to make it to the final of the North West Youth Alliance League Cup on a date to be confirmed.