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Town snatch controversial equaliser: St Helens Town 3 Norton United 3
12:36pm Thursday 8th August 2013 in Sport
PRIOR to kick off the club honoured club President Bert Trautmann with an impeccably observed minute’s silence following his death last month.
Playing their first game at Brocstedes Park – home of Ashton Athletic – they extended their unbeaten run to 6 matches, the first of which was a 3-1 win over Norton in April, but their opponents fielded a much stronger combination this time round.
Indeed, Norton looked to have the game sewn up when they went three up after 41 minutes.
However, Town came out fired up in the second half, initially to stem the tide, before gaining a foothold and going on to snatch a point in the most controversial circumstances in the game’s closing stages.
Town opened brightly, fielding six debutants, including on-loan Nantwich goalkeeper Josh Clark, but he had no chance with Norton’s opener, a speculative shot from 40 yards out hitting the bar, leaving Brown to nod in past the stranded keeper after 11 minutes.
Six minutes later, it was 2-0 to the visitors, when a 25-yard inch-perfect cross found the head of Smith who beat Clark at the far post. Worse was to come as Talbot’s diving header from another long cross again beat Clark and Norton were apparently coasting to victory.
Into the second half and it may have been the case that the Potteries side eased off, but the half-time team talk, coupled with the introduction of the experienced Ste Edwards turned the game on its head.
Firstly, the home defence began to snuff out Norton’s attack, reducing the visitors to shots from far out, but later, as the half wore on, the new forward line-up, bolstered by Edwards, started to create chances of their own.
Edwards had his first chance after 70 minutes and soon afterwards, Stephen Milne was tripped in the box, as Town surged forward again. Full-back Winkle was dismissed and Chris Williams hammered home the penalty kick to reduce the arrears.
From a corner kick, Edwards produced a powerful bullet header, which gave Hemmings no chance in the Norton goal and, with only added time to play, Town had the chance to claim a point. However, it came in controversial circumstances. Piling several men into the Norton box, it was more like pin-ball, as shots rained in from all angles. Finally, Adam Owens beat the keeper but, from behind the goal, the ball had not crossed the line before a defender hoofed it clear. Amazingly, however, the unsighted referee looked to his assistant who gave the nod and the goal was given. Hardly had the Norton protests died down, the game re-started and referee Abson blew the final whistle.
Town are at Winsford United on Saturday before hosting Wigan Robin Park next Tuesday, 7.45pm Meanwhile, St Helens Town have announced plans to release a limited edition replica shirt to mark the passing of legendary club president Bert Trautmann.
The retro design produced by the club's kit and leisurewear partner Umbro will see the commemorative shirt return to the club's original blue and white stripes, and the original club crest.
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