ST HELENS Town will head to fifth-placed Whitchurch Alport with renewed optimism on Saturday, writes Glyn Jones.

This follows winning their first home game since October 7 against one of the Hallmark Security League First Division’s promotion favourites Sandbach United two days before Christmas.

And they did so in remarkable circumstances, recovering from 2-0 down to succeed 3-2.

The result was no fluke and the three points were thoroughly deserved thanks to a resolute display in defence and a trio of well-taken goals.

An early opportunity to build on the result was taken away from them when heavy overnight rain unfortunately put paid to the Boxing Day game at Cammell Laird 1907, but there are no such problems anticipated at Whitchurch.

Still missing skipper Liam Dodd and wingman Alex Ashby, both serving their last game of a three-match suspension for dismissals in the win at Nelson, and with three recent new starters Kieran Yong, Mick Furlong and Liam Diggle finding their feet, on paper Town looked stretched against a Sandbach side well placed for a promotion push.

It came as no surprise when the visitors took the lead through James Kirby in the 21st minute, placing his effort just out of Yong’s reach at his right-hand post.

Town responded with a quick break up the right flank through the lively Shaun Brady, who found Liam Diggle bursting through the middle of the Sandbach defence, but Ryan Moss in the visitors’ goal saved well at his feet.

St Helens went further behind on the half-hour after Frank Puemo collected the ball 35 yards out and broke easily through a gap in the home midfield and, unchallenged, drew Yong and placed the ball against the inside of the keeper’s left post, the leather just having enough momentum to cross the goal-line and wind up in the Town net.

At this stage, the outcome looked like a procession but the turning point came out of the blue in the minutes leading up to half time.

A similar chance fell to the visitors but this time the ball hit the post and bounced the wrong way and, against the run of play, St Helens earned a corner.

From the ensuing in-swinging kick, Moss fumbled the ball and Furlong was on hand to tap home and give St Helens a 38th minute lifeline.

The second-half brought a remarkable turnaround.

The Town defence held steady throughout against wave after wave of Sandbach attacks and, to a man, they were all heroes, not least substitutes Owen Dursley and Paul Cliff who played their part too.

On the occasions the visitors got through, Yong pulled off some great saves and there were some terrible misses but, at the other end, St Helens taught their guests how to take their chances under pressure.

Leading scorer Brady netted Town’s equaliser in the 57th minute and new boy Diggle scored again nine minutes from time, heading in past Moss after latching on to a sliced shot from out on the right which caused confusion in the Sandbach ranks.

Town stuck to their task right to the end of the game, something which they have found very hard to do in games at Ruskin Drive this season.

Although they have lost a number of games from winning positions, no opponents have beaten them easily and St Helens are by no means a bad side, just perhaps short on confidence.