ST Helens Town’s hopes of extending their winning run to two games came to an abrupt end on Saturday when they went down 3-1 to Daisy Hill at Ruskin Drive.

Taking the field without Alex Ashby and Liam Dodd, both suspended for three games after their dismissals last week at Nelson, it was another game where Town took an early lead, conceded a quick equaliser and appeared to have ridden out the storm and looked set for at least a draw, only to ship two late goals and slide to yet another home defeat.

On a bitterly cold afternoon when all other games in the Hallmark Security First Division were postponed – even the match on the 3G surface at FC Oswestry Town – a goodly number of brave souls braved the conditions to witness an excellent, end to end contest, in keeping with the two previous matches between the clubs this season which had ended in a 4-3 win for Town and a 3-3 cup-tie draw, settled on penalties in favour of the Daisies. Both sides had won away from home last week, St. Helens at bottom club Nelson and Daisy Hill 5-1 at crisis-hit New Mills, so it was always going to be nip and tuck between these neighbouring rivals and so it proved.

Town took an early lead, top scorer Shaun Brady racing on to a through ball to finish clinically past Craig Haynes in the visitors’ goal in the 13th minute, but that lead was to last only a couple of minutes. On their first attack, Daisy Hill’s Jack Burke let fly with an unstoppable shot from 35 yards, giving Adam Fairchild no chance, to level the scores two minutes later.

That score inspired the visitors and they went all-out on the attack.

It took a marvellous diving save from Fairchild to deny Sam Crook then, with Fairchild still on the deck, Owen Dursley saved a certain goal from the rebound, turning the ball round his post.

Andy Webster was called into action a few minutes later, taking the ball off the feet of Jordan Donnelly with an expert last-ditch tackle, then Donnelly broke clear and hit the Town bar and had the goal at his mercy, only to blast the rebound wide.

Half-time came as a relief to St. Helens but, shortly afterwards, they conceded a penalty, which Fairchild saved brilliantly from Donnelly.

Town were leading a charmed life at this stage, clinging on at 1-1, due in no small part to brilliant last gasp defence, but also to the profligacy of the away side’s forwards.

However, all that changed in the 73rd minute when substitute Nial Callaghan broke clear and hit a daisy-cutter for the Daisies, right under Fairchild’s diving body, to give them the lead and, within three minutes, Michael Gervin made it 3-1 with a fierce drive from close range which Fairchild got his hand to, but its sheer power made it unstoppable and, with that, the game had finally slipped beyond Town’s reach.

The result leaves St. Helens Town in 20th place, only a point above Daisy Hill.

The good news is there is no relegation this season, as Division 1 is due to be split into North and South leagues next season, with a huge influx of new clubs, the selection of which is to be made by the FA early next year.

As for matters closer at hand, St. Helens Town entertain Carlisle City at Ruskin Drive this Saturday (kick-off 3pm), with another home game against Sandbach Cognisant

United a week later, with away trips to Cammell Laird to come on Boxing Day and Whitchurch Alport on Saturday 30th December.

Town will be looking to turn the tables on Carlisle, to whom they lost 3-0 at Gillford Park in September, two of those goals coming in the last few minutes. Last season’s matches both resulted in 3-4 defeats to the Cumbrians so there is perhaps not very much between the sides and a fair chance of a victory.