Litherland REMYCA 1 St Helens Town 0, St Helens Town 0 Prestwich Heys 2.

THERE won’t be many more weeks like this for St Helens Town this side of Christmas!

They had the great misfortune to come up against teams currently second and third in the Hallmark Security League First Division table and despite acquitting themselves very well on both occasions, came away with two narrow defeats, by 0-1 and 0-2, despite dominating possession and chances in front of goal in both games, especially on Wednesday at Litherland.

Litherland REMYCA lost narrowly to local rivals City of Liverpool FC in last season’s end of season promotion semi-final before a record crowd of over 1300 spectators at Litherland Sports Park, yet St. Helens Town put them under more pressure than the Purples on Wednesday night. The opening 25 minutes was all Town and it was no exaggeration to say that the visitors could have been four goals to the good by that stage.

Ben Morrow, in the REMYCA goal, was living a charmed life, and was saved by his posts twice before Matt Hamilton spared the home blushes and opened the scoring after bursting clear on 26 minutes for REMYCA’s only shot of the half. Town continued to exert pressure for the remainder of the first half and, although the second period was a much more balanced affair, Danny Lomax only narrowly missed with an opportunistic strike from 40 yards out when he noticed Morrow out of his goal, but his effort went wide of the post by just about a foot or two. The difference between a 0-1 defeat and a 1-1 draw and Litherland held on for the win, to close the gap on Silsden at the top of the table whilst Town were left to dream of what might have been.

On to Saturday and once again, St. Helens started brightly against third-placed Prestwich Heys in their re-arranged clash at Ruskin Drive. The Manchester team are a well-drilled, no-nonsense outfit and Town took the game to them in the opening exchanges, early chances falling to Joel Douglas and Alex Ashby, whilst Liam Dodd and Andy Webster marshalled Heys’ strong forwards at the back and, as on Wednesday, the opening goal came against the run of play and at just about the same stage of the game.

Had Town got it, nobody on the ground would have been surprised, but the ball fell kindly to midfielder Max White in space 25 yards out and he hit a wonderful strike first time, giving Adam Fairchild no chance in the St. Helens goal.

The goal changed the game and Prestwich came into the ascendency.

They began to play on the front foot and confidence oozed away from the Town players as they began to chase the game.

Injuries to Ashby and Webster forced manager Lee Jenkinson to introduce substitutes Luke Edwards and Dom Whelan earlier than planned and almost immediately after the half-time break, from a free-kick, Jacob Wood added a second goal for Heys, to stretch their lead to 2-0.

Town threw everything at Prestwich, in the vain hope of saving the game and although Shaun Brady was unfortunate to see a surging run end with his shot hitting a post, the visitors’ defence was just too strong and as well as Town played, they could not get in a telling blow.

If there was to be a consolation after such a tough week, then at least they will know that they won’t have to come up against such strong sides again for a while yet.

In nine league games played already, they have met the top three. This coming Saturday, they travel to Westhoughton to play Daisy Hill, who lost 8-0 to Prestwich recently, then take on Chadderton (home), AFC Blackpool (home), Stockport Town (away), Cheadle Town (home) and Eccleshall (home) before facing a return trip to Prestwich on 11th November.

All the intervening games should present a reasonable opportunity to pick up some much-needed league points and give a better indication of where the team is likely to finish in the end of season shake-up.

There are also trips to Holker Old Boys in the First Division Cup and Prestwich in the League Cup, both on midweek nights in October, plus a still-to-be-arranged home tie against Litherland in the Liverpool Senior Cup to be fitted in, to add to the interest for spectators as the season gathers pace.