A GRITTY and determined performance saw FC St Helens come out on top, in their pursuit of the NWCFL First Division North title thanks to Josh Hall’s goal, writes Liam McDermott.

The scoreline was testament to the display, following a first half that was devoid of clear-cut chances, as Hall, one of The Stripes’ prolific marksmen had arguably the best opportunity to open the scoring – but he shanked an effort that goalkeeper Jordan Gidley saved, from six-yards.

With little between the sides, but all to play for, it was a cautious affair that saw both attempting to cancel each other out at a rain-soaked Little Wembley.

Some great action was at the disposal of Jack Ball’s wand of a left foot, with his free-kick from 25-yards being equalled by Gidley’s strong save.

As a result of that, Joe Mason in the opposite goal had to be on top of his game and, having previously done well to get down to Charlie Frost’s low drive, he was there once again to keep his composure and a goalmouth scramble at bay.

The second half more or less picked up from where the first had left off, albeit with The Stripes looking livelier.

Joe Barker will wonder how he didn’t score, though it wasn’t for the want of trying.

Having had an angled drive kept out, the frontman’s eyes will have lit up when his effort on the turn looked destined for the top corner – but Gidley’s ‘Save of the Season’ contender ensured that it didn’t find it.

With Mike Smith’s men digging deep, Kieran Curtis’ intervention was required and he played a part in the main moment of the match.

Following a fine bit of footwork from Barker, the winger was on hand to shoot beyond Gidley – with Hall there to divert the easiest of finishes.

The Stripes had further opportunities to wrap the encounter up, with Barker heading wide and Tom Scarborough having a shot of his own saved.

Ultimately, however, those missed opportunities weren’t of any consequence – with Hall’s goal being the most significant act of the match.

That act could have greater significance, with the title nearing closer.