Carlisle City 3 St Helens Town 0.

St Helens Town 1 Hemsworth Miners Welfare 2 (FA Vase).

TWO more defeats for St. Helens Town in frustrating circumstances last week, but at least they emerged with their first league point of the season, after the Hallmark Security League Management Committee decided that the 0-0 scoreline from their abandoned game against Abbey Hulton United on 17th August should stand, Glyn Jones writes.

Readers will recall that the lights went out on a timer switch with the visitors unable to take the penalty kick awarded for handball seconds before the end of the game.

Tuesday saw the long trip to Carlisle City and several enforced changes included a return to action for Ant Whelan in midfield and debuts for Alex Hope O’Connor and Thomas Potter, all of whom acquitted themselves well in a tremendous defensive display, particularly in a goalless first-half. Sean Kelly came off the bench for his seasonal debut in the second period and all was going to plan before a free-kick was conceded in the 57th minute, which resulted in City’s opening goal from Dave Wallace.

Town continued to battle hard and they had two good chances from Phil Heron and notably Shaun Brady in the 79th minute, whose shot went just the wrong side of the post with the Carlisle keeper stranded. A 1-1 draw would have been a deserved result, but disaster befell Adam Fairchild in the St. Helens goal on 83 minutes when, soon after collecting an injury when attempting to intercept a pass, his view was obscured by a Carlisle attacker, Kyle Armstrong. The ball then squirted across Hope O’Connor’s outstretched foot and in off the post to make the score 2-0. Within two minutes, City wrapped up the points with an easy third goal from Michael Reed.

High-flying Hemsworth Miners Welfare were the visitors to Ruskin Drive on Saturday in the FA Vase First Round Qualifying tie and though Town gave as good as they got in the early stages, Welfare took the lead in the 29th minute through Luke Daniels with a downward header from a corner, just inside Fairchild’s far post. Fairchild, who went on to have an outstanding game, pulled off a wonderful save in the 35th minute, tipping a strong shot from Adam Wilson round the same post but, from the resultant corner kick, Richard Collier scored directly to stretch the visitors’ lead to two clear goals. Fairchild went on to make another outstanding save, again from Wilson, just before half-time and the teams went in with Town 0-2 in arrears.

St. Helens gradually battled their way back into contention part-way through the second period, Fairchild saving well from Chris Ovington to set them on their way. This seemed to inspire Neil Weaver who strode through the Miners’ defence and hit a wonderful drive from over 30 yards out, only for the Hemsworth keeper Jacob Collier to tip the effort over the bar. Town gained a foothold in the tie with 7 minutes left when Joel Douglas netted at the second attempt, after his first shot was blocked. Hemsworth tried to stretch their lead with minutes remaining, but Fairchild blocked well before Wilson could get in his shot, then right at the death, substitute Shaun Brady waltzed through a gaping hole in the back four and struck a great effort which hit the base of the left-hand upright but, instead of going into the net, emerged the wrong side of the post.

The referee’s whistle went and, instead of forcing 30 minutes’ extra time, Town exited the FA Vase for another year and Hemsworth went through to face the winners of the delayed Prestwich Heys v Liversedge tie in the next round.

Town next play on Saturday away to FC Oswestry Town in a battle of the bottom two sides in the Hallmark Security League First Division. Both sides are looking for their first win of the season, so the stakes could not be higher.

Then, on Wednesday, St. Helens make the short trip to Litherland Remyca (kick-off 7.45pm) for another league game, which is a dress-rehearsal for Town’s Liverpool Senior Cup tie between the clubs.

That game has yet to be arranged, but will take place at Ruskin Drive.

The clubs met at the same stage last season, Town going down 4-2 at Litherland, who eventually lost at the Semi-Final stage at Southport.