St. Helens Town 2 Whitchurch Alport 3, Widnes 8 St. Helens Town 0
St. Helens Town battled pushed promotion-chasing Whitchurch Alport all the way on Thursday night at Prescot, only to go down 3-2 four minutes from the end, to an unfortunate own goal, then met a rampant Widnes side less than 48 hours later and went down to an 8-0 defeat at the Select Security Stadium, writes Glyn Jones.
Thursday’s game was a pulsating, end-to-end crackerjack of a match, watched by a good crowd, boosted by a good, vocal following from the Shropshire club who were a totally different side to that which went down to a 10-0 defeat at St. Helens Town twelve months ago. They took the lead through Luke Walley after eight minutes and looked like dominating the game until Town roared back into contention through Ste Rigby, who burst through a gap, took on three defenders and fired into the roof of the net from the edge of the Alport penalty box to level the scores on 23 minutes.
Rigby has had a scintillating season, especially since moving up front in recent months and central defender Liam Dodd has been a rock at the back and it was a real blow when he had to leave the pitch injured midway through the first half.
Whitchurch appeared shell-shocked when Andy Gillespie bulldozed his way through the middle to score his 23rd goal of the season after 29 minutes and, although the visitors did fight back towards half-time, Andy Presho launched a howitzer of a shot from 40 yards out in the 45th minute which bounced off the cross-bar with the Alport keeper beaten all ends up.
Early in the second half, Rigby went close to extending Town’s lead again, but Whitchurch hit back to equalise five minutes in, when Simon Everall levelled at 2-2 and after that, it was anyone’s game as both teams could have scored. The game appeared as if it were heading for a stalemate as it entered its closing stages, however, as a hopeful cross from the Whitchurch left-hand touchline in the 86th minute was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Adam Donohue and Town were left totally deflated, with nothing to show for a magnificent team effort.
Saturday was totally different. Right from the start, Town looked jaded and lethargic. Widnes had also played on Thursday night, winning 1-0 at Bacup but, psychologically, having won six on the bounce and going all out for promotion and the First Division title itself, their tails were up and it was not long before they were one-up. Ste Rigby had a chance in the 13th minute and Adam Fairchild saved well from George Lomax a minute later, but the former Town striker soon got into his stride and he simply bullied the Town defence and keeper into basic errors, scoring a first-half hat-trick in the 21st, 35th and 43rd minutes to take away any chance Town might have of salvaging anything from the game.
After the break, there was only one team in it and Widnes scored at will, another former St. Helens player Chris Lomax netting on 51 minutes, Steven Akrigg scoring twice in the 72nd and 78th minutes and two excellent goals to end with, Luke J. Edwards burying a 15-yard strike with 4 minutes remaining and substitute Chad Whyte (also ex-St. Helens Town) flicking over Fairchild in the last minute of the game to end Town’s misery.
St. Helens were due to visit Chadderton on Tuesday before the big local derby against City of Liverpool FC on Good Friday (kick-off at 3pm) at Prescot Cables’ ground. There is certain to be a big crowd so get there early and enjoy a pint of real ale at the beer festival, which is also taking place at the venue. It looks like being a great day out. Town don’t have another fixture until Thursday week, another home game against Ashton Town (kick-off at 7.45pm).