Atherton L.R. 2 St Helens Town 0.

St Helens Town 1 Silsden 4.

TOWN ended another week with no points from two games, which proved scant reward for plenty of effort but no luck just when it mattered in front of goal.

Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Atherton L.R. was most frustrating, as they conceded a goal from a wicked deflection off the defensive wall, after the poorly-hit shot from Rodney Ajayi cannoned in past a stranded Adam Fairchild after 23 minutes after Town had opened much the better side.

In fact, St. Helens were on top for virtually all the game, but could not convert their superiority into goals. Shaun Brady, Neil Weaver, Patrice Kwofie and Joel Douglas all had great chances in the first half, but none could find the target and the same was the case in the second half. Even the introduction of substitute Luke Edwards failed to make a difference and, as frustration set in, with the score at 1-0, shots rained in from 20 and 30 yards out, wider and wider of the Atherton goal, before L.R. finally sealed the game with a headed goal from Aaron Stott off the left-hand post, very much against the run of play, two minutes from time.

Saturday saw table-toppers Silsden visit Ruskin Drive, with five wins from five outings, yet Town dominated the early exchanges. Both sides had early “goals” disallowed for offside decisions, including Brady for St. Helens, and it was Brady again shortly afterwards who very nearly scored but for the close attentions of visiting keeper Callum Jakovlevs. However, Town soon afterwards took the lead in spectacular fashion on 27 minutes when Weaver made a marvellous tackle in the style of Marouane Fellaini, turning on the ball 40 yards out, to set up Edwards who took the ball through to the corner of the penalty area and he fired home past Jakovlevs to put St. Helens 1-0 up.

Unfortunately, the lead was only short-lived as, from a corner, Danny Illingworth fired in a low ball which caught Town keeper Tom Bradley off guard and it bounced in off a combination of his shoulder and the goal-post to level the scores within two minutes. Worse was to come for St. Helens, who appeared to switch off momentarily to allow Silsden to stroll through for goals from Mark Trueman and Joseph Gaughan after 36 and 37 minutes, which effectively killed off the game at half-time, with the score at 3-1 to the Cobbydalers.

The second-half was very much a midfield stalemate with neither side looking likely to make a breakthrough, but Silsden settled the contest at 1-4 with a simple tap-in 10 minutes from the end, substitute Chris Wademan scoring.

The return of a number of players from holiday and work commitments in the next few weeks should give manager Lee Jenkinson a welcome boost ahead of the next league fixture on 16th September, when Town travel to take on bottom club FC Oswestry Town but, before then, St. Helens Town are at home again this Saturday in the FA Vase, First Round Qualifying, when Hemsworth Miners Welfare are visitors to Ruskin Drive, kick-off at 3pm.

Hemsworth play in the Toolstation Northern Counties East Premier Division (Step 5), one division higher than St. Helens, so it will be a big test for Town.

They have started the season well and are currently in second place, behind Pontefract Collieries, the only team they have lost to up to now, apart from Runcorn Linnets, who put them out of the FA Cup on 5th August.

If the scores are level after 90 minutes on Saturday, there will be 15 minutes each way extra time, but if still level, there will be a replay at Hemsworth’s ground in Fitzwilliam, near Pontefract, next Tuesday, at 7.45pm.

Under FA regulations, there will be no alcohol within the ground at FA Vase games this season. Fans can enjoy a drink in the Sticky Wicket before and after the game, but will not be able to bring their drinks into the ground itself.