St Helens Town continued their fine form on the road this week as they secured another four points but it probably should have been a maximum return.
Tuesday saw Town take their longest league trip the 90 mile two hour plus journey to the leagues northern most outpost of Barrow-in-Furness to take on a Holker Old boys outfit who came into the contest in four place.
After an even opening twenty or so minutes of the contest the visitors took control and opened the scoring after 26 minutes Ellis Mavers sent a right wing corner into the box which whipped dangerously goalwards and the home stopper Ross Liddicott reacted too late to the inswinging centre and could not prevent it from crossing the line.
The lead was doubled on 37 minutes when a quick counter attack saw Jamie McDevitt advance and link with George Lomax he tried his luck only to see his effort turned behind for a corner which was sent into the box and found Lomax on the far post his effort was cleared off the line breaking to Eddie Pegler and his effort on the half volley was sweetly stuck and found the top left hand corner of the net giving the home stopper no chance.
As the interval approached further pressure from the visitors saw Lomax get past Robert Parker and the Holker man crudely hacked him down but a fine advantage was played by the referee which allowed skipper Andy Gillespie to collect the loose ball driving towards goal and firing under Liddicott as he bore down on him.
Just before the interval Holker’s rough means saw Lomax receive an elbow to the face from Guy Heffernan which was not spotted by the match officials and to the hosts almost added insult to injury as they countered with Jordan Brough only denied by a fine save from Town custodian Matty Hodge.
The start of the second half saw the hosts have a spell of pressure where they looked to reduce arrears their best effort in this spell saw an effort from Brough held by Hodge at the second attempt and after seeing out this period Town hit them with a fourth on 63 minutes to trample any thoughts of a comeback.
Lomax completed a fine individual performance with an intelligent run which was found by an incisive ball from Pegler and the striker applied an excellent finish finding the bottom right hand corner of the net from the left of the area.
Town added a fifth a couple of minutes later when a swift passing move saw Mavers play in Lomax on the right wing and he in turn found substitute Ste Rigby who powered an effort into the bottom left hand corner from the edge of the box.
Holker were awarded a penalty on 73 minutes and Heffernan who was lucky to still be on the pitch after the earlier incident with Lomax stepped up to take it but he had clearly used up his luck of the evening as his powerful effort was well saved by Hodge who dived to his right and met the effort with a strong hand sending the ball over the bar to preserve his clean sheet and send on the long journey home happy.
Bacup Borough 3 St Helens Town 3
Saturday saw a trip to East Lancashire to take on Bacup Borough and it was a game which saw the visitors race into an early three goal lead but was marred by some inexplicable officiating which saw Town thankful for a hard fought draw in the end.
The confident visitors took little time to get into their stride and early dominance saw them take a 5th minute lead.
Lomax continued where he had left off on Tuesday terrorising defenders and he got past his man on the right sending a ball hard and low into the box which found Rigby on the far post and slotted home on the left of the box.
The lead was doubled two minutes later when Lomax again left a defender in his wake before finding Gillespie who drew the keeper rounded his and then shot into bottom left hand corner of the net from an acute angle on the right.
Town’s great start was rounded off on 12 minutes when Gillespie added is second and the visitors third.
Pegler played a great ball out to Lomax on the right wing and his cross found Rigby on the left of the box his initial effort on the byline was blocked but broke back to him and this time he picked out the skipper who made no mistake firing home to net his 25th goal of the campaign and send him to the top of the divisions goalscoring chart.
Bacup came back at Town and Hodge had to be alert to deny Anthony Hall with his body before the hosts reduced the arrears when Matthew Barlow lofted a head over Hodge from the near post.
Just before the half hour mark the decision which was to swing the contest in the favour of the hosts saw Adam Lawrence look to have won the ball in a challenge with Hall but the referee gave a free kick from his poor position and to the amazement of virtually all in attendance brandished a red card for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity with the Bacup man wide on the left of the area and with covering defenders between him and the goal!
Lomax had a great chance to add a fourth for Town on 33 minutes but his effort went just wide of the left hand upright with the keeper beaten and soon afterwards Barlow added his second taking firing home from the edge of the box and this was how the sides went into the interval.
With almost an hour on the clock Gillespie was pulled down as he broke past a defender and was about to get into box and fire a shot off, this appeared to be a more obvious goal scoring opportunity than that for which Lawrence was dismissed for but just a free kick and a yellow card were awarded.
More dismay was to follow as Gillespie sent the free kick towards Andy Presho on the far post and with a Bacup defending holding him down and climbing all over him as he attempted to meet the cross but again the referee was “unsighted” and gave no decision.
St Helens’ disgruntlement continued as a soft penalty was awarded on 68 minutes which Barlow just managed to squeeze under Hodge’s dive to complete his hat-trick and with their tails up and the man advantage Bacup looked to secure all three points Hall had an effort cleared off the line by Matty Davidson and Barlow headed over when unmarked centrally before a Town counter saw Gillespie linke with Josh Hoult he tried his luck from the edge of the box with a well struck effort which was going to test the home stopper but a deflection took all the power out of the shot and the keeper was able to claim easily.
Hodge helped earn a share of the spoils with two great saves in the closing stages the first from Barlow at the front post with the stopper going the wrong way and having to adjust quickly and the second deep in added on time from the same man.
Town are next in action this Saturday, March 26 when they take a trip to Shropshire to take on Whitchurch Alport with a 3pm kick off before hosting near neighbours Ashton Town at Brocstedes Park on Easter Monday (March 28) also with a 3pm kick off.