St Helens Town continued their 100 per cent start to 2016 with back to back wins and consecutive clean sheets but the game was closer than the final score suggest.
Town looked promising early in the contest without producing anything to keep Spencer Martin in the home goal busy.
Indeed it was the hosts who missed the first golden chance to open the scoring when a free kick into the box found Oliver Jepson his effort rebounded off the crossbar to Dan Counter and he somehow manged to head over with an open goal at his mercy.
Moments later a diagonal ball from right to left released Daniel Jones he shot past Mathew Hodge in the Town goal put his effort lacked power and was cleared off the line by Jack Marshall.
Midway through the half Town almost opened the scoring when Sam Sheen’s free kick centrall was met by Hamish Falconer on the far post but his headed effort went just over the bar. The next chance saw skipper Andy Gillespie step up to strike a free kick centrally from 25 yards out the effort was on target but a fine save from Martin at full stretch tipped it onto the upright, the rebound fell kindly for the visitors as it was collected by Ste Rigby but he fired over the bar.
The deadlock was broken by Town after 42 minutes when an initial attack down the right looked to have been extinguished but the hosts were loose with the ball and played an ill-advised pass across the box which Sheen collected on the edge of the area and his pin point effort gave Martin not chance finding the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Just after the restart the visitors doubled their lead when a fine flowing move saw Connor Murphy find Andy Gillespie on the left of the box he in turn found Ellis Mavers who spread the ball out to the right of the area where it was collected by Sheen he shaped to shoot but deceived the home defence by passing inside to Rigby who had made a well-timed run and he was composed enough to find the bottom right hand corner of the net.
On 51 minutes Town had a great chance to make it 3-0 Andy Gillespie latched onto a loose Eccleshall pass and bore down on goal as he shaped to shoot a fine recovery tackle from Nathan Dyer denied him. Quickly at the other end of the field Hodge had to be alert to keep the hosts out as a corner caused problems in the Town box and the loose ball broke to Dyer who drew a fine save from the Town stopper at close range.
Skipper Andy Gillespie was again in the action as the game reached its three quarter mark, he was released by a through ball and got into the box beating a defender before shooting just wide of the target. On the hosts next attack they were awarded a penalty as a the rather dull bounce of a long ball in the Town box deceived Hodge and he felled a striker in his attempts to get to the ball, the keeper was cautioned, dusted himself down and then redeemed himself instantly by getting down quickly to his left to save Jepson’s spot kick.
Town buoyed by this redemption looked to kill off the game and a counter attack almost saw them add a third goal, Andy Gillespie again got past his defender and into the box on the left he drew the keeper and could have had a shot himself but selflessly squared towards the centre of the box where two Town men were waiting but Martin was able to get a touch and the ball was smuggled to safety. The game was put beyond doubt in the final minute of normal time as Gillespie got the goal his afternoon’s performance deserved. Aaron Morris intercepted on the right wing and played a great ball into the box where Gillespie was tightly marked but turned and quickly poked the ball home into the bottom left hand corner of the net to take his tally to 19 goals in 23 games this season and see Town within touching distance of the promotion play off positions.
St Helens Town are next in action this Saturday (January 30) when they visit Cheadle Town, kick off 3pm.