St Helens Town’s play-off hopes took a slight dent as they went down at Silver Street to an Irlam side who cemented their place in the automatic promotion places.
The opening stages were a cagey affair as the teams sitting in second and third place in the form table at the start of the contest sized each other up.
The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors after 12 minutes when Andy Gillespie was able to turn on the right edge of the box and his effort went just over the bar.
A warning which Town did not heed came in the 21st minute when Richard Peters was allowed space on the left wing to pick a man in the centre with a cross but on this occasion Jordan Southworth sent his free header over the bar when well placed at the far post.
At the other end Aaron Morris did well getting into the Irlam box and saw his subsequent effort turned behind by a lunge from Jacques Kpohgomou from the resultant corner Ellis
Mavers almost scored as his inswinger was just clawed out at the front post by Lee White in the home goal and the loose ball saw shots from Gillespie and Morris which saw some more desperate blocks somehow deny the visitors the opener.
The end to end nature of the game continued as the sides exchanged chances with Irlam’s Matthew Boland seeing a headed effort held by Mathew Hodge in the Town goal and Mavers winning the ball on the left wing deep in the Irlam half before linking with George Lomax who saw his effort held by White.
The next chance saw the hosts open the scoring when Peters was again allowed space on the left sending a cross to the front post this time which was met by the unmarked Boland and he made no mistake heading home.
The final chance of the first period saw Town almost level when Lomax collected a half cleared free kick at the edge of the box but his effort which would have posed problems for the home stopper was diverted away from trouble by Conor Braithwaite.
A change of formation at the interval saw Town start the second period brightly and create a couple of golden chances in the opening few minutes of the half. Lomax first released Gillespie and he linked with Mavers on the edge of the box but his effort went just the wrong side of the left hand upright.
A swift move a couple of minutes later saw Andy Presho spread the ball out to Lomax
on the right he fed the ball to Morris who beat Kpohgomou to the byline and sent a dangerous cross come shot into the six yard box which White claimed with Gillespie in attendance.
Town were made to pay for not turning the dominance in the opening half of the second period when Irlam doubled their advantage on 67 minutes. Former Town man Marcus Perry had come off the bench a couple of minutes before and he drove down the right before cutting inside and centring the ball which appeared to get a touch centrally which deflected it onto the left hand post and the rebound fell kindly for Southworth who turned the loose ball home.
The game became more disjointed after this second goal as the hosts were happy to drop off a little, drawing Town on but allowing them little space in the final third and then
trying to catch them on the counter attack.
One such move almost saw Perry add a third with a shot from the right which was cleared off the line by Ant Whelan but for all of Town’s efforts the game was over as a contest and the host earned the three points they deserved for their well organised and solid defending and in the process became only the second side to stop Town scoring this term.
Town are next in action this Saturday, April 9 when they take the short trip to near neighbours Ashton Town with a 3pm kick off before welcoming league leaders Hanley Town at Brocstedes Park the following Tuesday (April 12) with a 7.45pm kick off.