Town take a point from a pulsating game
Town and Alsager serve up a cracker at Ruskin Drive to start 2018
This match report is sponsored by Top Car Detailing
This was the game that had everything. Plenty of goals, incidents, controversy and a rousing finish and St. Helens Town were unlucky not to hold out for a win, as visitors Alsager levelled the scores deep into injury time to salvage a 3-3 draw.
On a very cold, sunny day, the match started as a slow burner, with few chances in the first half. Tom Grimshaw should have given Town an early lead when he narrowly failed to get his head to an excellent cross from Liam Diggle.
Grimshaw did eventually put St. Helens 1-0 up with his first goal for the club after 20 minutes when the impressive Diggle shot from distance which the visiting stopper could not hold and Grimshaw slotted home the rebound. Typical of their play this season, Town allowed their guests to equalise four minutes later, when the home defence failed to clear a seemingly harmless ball and Paul Taylor netted at the third attempt to level the score at 1-1.
The second half built up a head of steam mid-way through as substitute Paul Cliff scored a fine goal from a tight angle from wide out on the left wing and Town had two or three good chances to make the game safe, through Cliff and Liam Diggle.
Before long, a number of hefty challenges, principally from the visitors, were allowed to go unpunished by the referee, who lost control and players from both sides saw yellow cards in the ensuing confrontations as the match deteriorated into a series of midfield squabbles. Diggle was cautioned and shortly afterwards, was the victim of a heavy shove from Matt German. Diggle appeared to do no more than stand his ground while is opponents kicked the ball against him, but both players received yellow cards with Diggle deemed to have kicked the ball away and was immediately sent off, a decision which appeared completely wrong, leaving Town down to ten men for the last 20 minutes, with Alsager in the ascendency at full strength.
German was involved in the next incident as Alsager had an equaliser chalked off for offside, the assistant raising his flag immediately before the ball hit the back of the net. Referee Perkin went over to consult his linesman and confirmed the goal had been disallowed, whereupon the Alsager forward abusively accused the official of being a “cheat” but escaped even a talking to, let alone a second yellow card.
With four minutes remaining, veteran striker Mickey Lennon grabbed an equaliser to make the score 2-2 but, with feelings running high, almost from the re-start, St. Helens swept the length of the field and substitute Ben Bolton who chested the ball and in one move turned and fired past Mellor from a tight angle to restore the home side’s lead in the 88th minute, a score which all ten players celebrated wildly.
The game erupted again into more mayhem as Owen Dursley was cleaned out on the touch line and he was fortunate to escape serious injury, but no action was taken by the officials as the players ran in to protect him.
Alsager’s equaliser duly came five minutes into added time, from the villain of the piece, Matt German, who tucked away his neat header just inside Kieran Yong’s left post, to send the visitors into raptures and send them back down the M6 with a point to add to their promotion ambitions.
Town should have taken the spoils with almost the last kick of the game when Shaun Brady broke clear but he failed to hit the target when one on one with Mellor.
Everything considered, it was a great performance from St. Helens Town, against strong opposition, a point manager Lee Jenkinson would probably have settled for before the start of the game.