ST HELENS Town were leading FC Oswestry Town 2-1 on Saturday and apparently cruising to a long-awaited victory, only for self-doubt to set in once again and allow their Shropshire visitors to equalise, then steal a 3-2 win they hardly deserved.

Town opened the scoring in the third minute through Alex Ashby’s curling shot which beat the Oswestry keeper at his right-hand post and they were full value for their lead over a side they beat 3-0 in the reverse fixture in September.

However, sloppy defence play allowed Jack Harris to equalise with a daisy-cutter from long range after 25 minutes.

St Helens restored their advantage right on the half hour mark when they laid siege to the Oswestry six-yard box.

The home defence failed to clear Luke Edwards’s initial shot and the packed box resembled a bagatelle table as one St Helens player after another queued up to try to poke the ball over the line, the final touch going to leading scorer Shaun Brady, who netted his 10th goal of the season.

As the game headed towards the interval, Ashby had a wonderful chance to add a second goal.

He burst through, one-on-one with the keeper and appeared certain to score, but took his shot too soon and the ball drifted left of the post.

At 3-1, in retrospect, there was perhaps no way back for Oswestry, but they got a foothold in the game in the 67th minute through a Chris Bishop goal which levelled the scores and although this was only their second chance of the game, it sowed the seed of doubt in the minds of a number of the St. Helens players.

Nine games since a win weighing heavily in their memories, they seemed to lose confidence and, with seven minutes left, Oswestry broke upfield and won a corner.

The ball was played deep and met on the run by Sam Thomas who drove it downwards into the surface and it bounced over Gage Walsh and into the home net for the winning goal the visitors play, on balance, scarcely deserved.

St. Helens Town, now 10 games without a win, since they accounted for Holker Old Boys in the last minute of the First Division Cup tie on 12th October, remain rooted in 20th place in the First Division table.

On Saturday, they travel to Nelson to take on the bottom club, now under the newly-appointed manager Steve Cunningham (once of St. Helens Town) and the following weekend the next to bottom club Daisy Hill are visitors to Ruskin Drive.

Needless to say, these are crucial games Town must look to win, as they will not have better chances to pull away from the bottom of the table for some time.