St Helens Town 0 Winsford United 2

St Helens Star: Ste Milne Ste Milne

Winsford United completed a league double over St Helens Town at Brocstedes Park on Saturday, inflicting a third consecutive league defeat on a Town team who had to play virtually the whole of the second half with just ten men.

The very heavy conditions made open football very difficult and this favoured Winsford’s more direct style of play, as the young St Helens forwards found it nearly impossible to play their usual passing game. Andy Gillespie was missing because of illness and a forward line re-shuffle saw Neil Weaver on one wing and Dave McNamara, promoted from the reserves, on the other flank.

When Nathan Parish was injured, following a collision with a Winsford player, Paul Cook-Hannah came off the bench midway through the first half. Another injury to McNamara saw him replaced by Adam Owens at half time and then Cook-Hannah sustained a back injury just after half-time, so with all substitutes used Town played a man short for the last 40 minutes.

Sam Pullinger had an early chance from long range, but was some way wide with his shot from 20 yards and, after 16 minutes, a run from Weaver found Adam Storey, who set up McNamara with a good chance, but the wingman’s finish failed to test Nathan Beckett in the visitors’ goal. Winsford suddenly seized their chance and Dennis Sherriff gave them the lead with a terrific shot from the corner of the penalty area.

The Cheshire side dominated the rest of the first half and it fell to young keeper Ciaran Gibson to keep Town within reach with two good saves in the last two minutes before the interval, first a spectacular catch from James Rothwell’s goal-bound effort, before plucking a shot from the feet of Sheriff. There was just enough time for a chance from Cook-Hannah at the other end, but he hit his effort over the bar and Town went in for the break 0-1 down.

St Helens might have had a penalty five minutes into the second-half, when Ste Milne was taken down at the edge of the Winsford box and the home side’s misfortune continued as they were reduced to ten men and Storey hit another good chance over Beckett’s bar.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Town enjoyed their best spell of the game for the next 20 minutes, as Winsford sat back on their lead.

However, the St. Helens forwards were wasteful with a succession of good opportunities.

Storey, missing his striking partner Gillespie, snatched at a couple of chances, either side of his side’s best chance of the match as Milne hit a low, hard shot along the goal-line, which Beckett could only parry and with no supporting forward following up, the loose ball was easily cleared by the grateful defence.

Winsford were riding their luck at this stage and, with 13 minutes left, a long ball up field and a desperate lunge by a Town defender in his own box gifted a penalty to their visitors and Sherriff made no mistake.

Town’s next home game is on Saturday, 4th January when league leaders Runcorn Town will provide another stern test.

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