Defence was a clear focus point for St Helens Town, as they had leaked 11 goals in their opening four games of the campaign.
Having let in four goals against Sandbach United on Thursday night, there was perhaps a sense of trepidation as they were still looking for their first league win and travelled to league leaders Litherland REMYCA.
‘Remy’ had only conceded once in their three matches played so far. Town were looking to avenge the two defeats that they suffered against today’s hosts last season, a 3-1 early season clash followed by a 3-2 home defeat in February left Town with a point to prove.
Town were strengthened at the back by the return of Andy Webster, who had come back from life in the USA, in his first match for seven-and-a-half years, slotted in at right back of a four man defence. Hamish Falconer also returned in place of Dom Whelan to partner Andy Presho at centre back with Ste Rigby filling his usual role of left back.
Town made the perfect start as they won a free kick 25 yards out, Sam Sheen was the obvious choice to take, after his goal from the dead ball on Thursday. This was duly the case and Sheen delivered once again, his shot fooled keeper Carroll who expected a cross, to put the visitors one up inside the early stages.
St Helens started brightly and seemed to have the energy that had deserted them against Sandbach, they were positive in attack whilst limiting Litherland to few attempts on Lee Novak’s goal. This included a tame header by Litherland’s Niall Gannon that was easily claimed by the Town stopper.
In an uncommon turn of events, the blues were awarded an indirect free kick inside the area after Caroll picked up a back pass from one of his defenders, this meant that Andy Gillespie teed up Sheen whose attempt was blocked, the rebound fell to Ed Pegler, but his shot blazed over the bar.
However, after a corner, Litherland number three Danio Flynn was fouled in the area, which resulted in a penalty for the hosts. Ex Town midfielder and Budweiser Dream Goal winner Colin Quirk sent Novak the wrong way from the spot to equalise for the hosts.
As the second half commenced, Litherland came into the game, as they weren’t going to provide an easy return for Webster at right back!
Quirk kept testing Novak in the Town net, however he never hardly have to move to claim his half volley at the edge of the box. Also, an effort from striker Tom Foley left the St Helens stopper motionless but could only trickle wide.
Town then had a spell as the better side, as a Ste Rigby penalty shout was turned down. This was before Town struck the eventual winner. A barnstorming run from Rigby allowed him to feed the ball to Gillespie just inside the box. The number nine was allowed to turn despite being surrounded by defenders, he slotted the ball into the far corner to score his third of the season.
This meant that Litherland continued to pressure the Town defence, and took more and more risks in order to find their second equaliser. This included a Quirk free kick that went over the bar before Jake Connor couldn’t connect with a teasing ball into the box. In a scenario that perhaps you would expect St Helens Town to concede in judging by their previous games, they held firm for a deserved win and to end Litherland’s 100 per cent winning record.
With a win finally under their belt, St Helens can feel a little more confident when travelling to second-placed Charnock Richard this coming Saturday, this is before hosting fellow league new boys Prestwich Heys at Volair Park on Thursday September 1.