St Helens Town 3 Northwich Manchester Villa 0

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St Helens Town improved their play-off prospects with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Northwich Manchester Villa at Brocstedes Park on Saturday.

The early stages of the contest saw the hosts on top and they thought they had taken the lead when a free kick was sent into the box from the right wing by Alex Gillespie.

tThe ball caused all sorts of problems in the Northwich box and keeper Daniel Whiting dived to parry the effort which was returned towards goal by Adam Lawrence the effort took a deflection off a defender in the packed box but appeared to be finding the net George Lomax with a strikers instinct turned the ball home only to see the flag raised as he was in an offside position.

Almost instantly at the other end Northwich advanced down the right and when the ball was centred Stuart McDonald struck an effort which beat Mathew Hodge but struck the crossbar and was cleared to safety.

Skipper Andy Gillespie was typically in the action as he had effort from the edge of the box which was saved by Whiting.

He then scuffed an effort when in a good position from a corner but just before the interval he received a pass on the right of area with his back to goal and worked a position where he turned his defender and curled an effort which beat Whiting but struck the left hand upright and was cleared the last action of note in a half where Town had dominated the ball but failed to make their opponents pay.

The interval saw an attacking change as Daniel Greene was introduced replacing Matthew Davidson and this bold change paid almost instant dividends.

After a foray forward was stopped by foul means the skipper stepped up and struck a powerful effort from 20 yards which was on target and giving the visiting stopper something to think about and the difficultly was amplified when the strike took a deflection which steered it further away from the stopper and into the net to break the deadlock.

The tide of Town pressure continued as Stephen Rigby sent a cross from the right which was met by Andrew Presho on the far post but he couldn’t steer his effort on target.

Andy Gillespie collected a left wing cross soon afterward which took a deflection off Sven Gibson and behind for a corner from this set piece the ball was half cleared and collected by Rigby on the left he drove forward and picked out Greene who took a touch and then thundered a great strike into the bottom left hand corner of the net past the despairing dive of Whiting who got a touch but could only steer it into the net.

Further pressure saw Presho send a testing ball into the box from the right which Aaron Morris met on the far post but he headed wide of the target. As the clock ticked to the 70th minute Town netted a third and it was a flowing move which included, Greene, Morris, Andy Gillespie and Lomax and culminated in Lomax turning a couple of defenders inside out and curling an effort into the bottom right hand corner of the net to effectively put the game beyond the visitors.

With the points in the bag the hosts dropped down through the gears and were effectively going through the motions of seeing out the contest the visitors had a couple of good chances to get on the scoresheet but were to come up against an inspired Hodge.

Substitute Kyle Preece had an effort from close range which Hodge parried and recovered quickly to close the angle down and Socrates Martins fired wide under pressure.

In added on time Gibson powered an effort from 25 yards which Hodge pushed away from goal and again he was up quickly to deny Martins saving the subsequent effort and preserving his clean sheet.

Town are in action twice this week as first they welcome Whitchurch Alport to Brocstedes Park on Saturday, April 23 with a 3pm kick off before hosting Bacup Borough the following Wednesday (April 27) with a 7.45pm kick off.