Town Pay for Set Plays Against Nelson
Two free kick goals ensure the points are shared at Ruskin.
This match report is sponsored by Top Car Detailing
A huge clash at the bottom of the Hallmark Security Division First Division table was contested at Ruskin Drive as 3rd bottom St Helens Town hosted bottom of the table Nelson. Town were looking use their 2-1 win at Nelson less than 2 months ago as motivation, while the away side’s encouraging form of collecting 7 points out of a possible 12 may have gave them confidence in reducing the gap to St Helens to 3 points.
The game started as expected in a bottom of the table 6 pointer, with both teams looking cagey and assured, not wanting to take too much of a risk. St Helens had the majority of the possession, which I’m sure was something reminiscent of Jimmy McBride’s tenure as manager, with the man himself in attendance along with some of his former players during his two spells as Town boss.
The blues had the first chance on 7 minutes, with Nelson’s Alexander Grice giving the ball to Liam Diggle in a costly area, 1 on 1, the goalkeeper made a good save from the striker’s effort, with Luke Edwards firing the resulting rebound over the bar.
Town created another good chance soon after, a hopeful ball down the right allowed Shaun Brady to stretch his legs. He beat the goalkeeper to the ball who sprinted out of his area to claim, his shot was blocked by a defender which fell to Diggle, who’s shot went wide.
St Helens fashioned yet another chance, once again through the tenacious work of Matty Smith in midfield. He intercepted a Nelson pass before threading through Diggle, but his well struck effort was smartly saved by the Nelson keeper and captain Marcel Wusiewicz.
Just as Town’s luck has played out this season, their inability to be clinical with chances presented to them cost them just after the half hour mark. St Helens’ Thomas Grimshaw brought down a Nelson man just outside the area resulting in a free kick. Christopher Turner stepped up and fired the ball under the wall, and a slight deflection took the ball away from the Town keeper.
A sign of the times for the Blues at the moment is their next chance. Luke Edwards produced brilliant driving run down the left and crossed on a plate for Liam Diggle to head in from 2 yards, however the ball skimmed off his head and hit the bar, to the dismay of the Ruskin Drive crowd.
HT: St Helens Town 0-1 Nelson (Turner, 33)
Soon after the restart, Town hit the woodwork again through Diggle. A terrific free kick from Edwards on the left found the head of the St Helens number 9 but his well-directed effort was terrifically saved the Nelson shot stopper and tipped onto the post. Edwards supplied yet another good ball in from a free kick to find Andy Presho in space, however the right back was unable to make any connection on the ball.
St Helens got their equaliser just after the hour mark, and just as they changed to a 4-4-2 formation with the introduction of Ben Bolton. Luke Edwards found space on the edge of the area and shot past the Nelson keeper Wusiewicz in an effort he arguably should have claimed. Town had their leveller, and were now looking for a winner.
Sub Bolton provided a brilliant through ball to his strike partner Diggle, but he was perhaps presented with too much time, and the goalkeeper arrived at his feet to smother his shot for a corner.
St Helens finally took the lead, with Edwards involved again. The Town number 11 provided yet another free kick delivery to the head of Presho, who beat the keeper to the ball and nodded into an empty net.
Nelson had the ball in the net, as Daniel Mort was played through as the Town defence was split open, however his composed finish past Williams was ruled out for offside by the linesman.
Nelson did get their equaliser and it was a carbon copy of their first. Turner hit a free kick from 25 yards out which went under the wall and crept inside the post of the Town keeper, as the match now became a lot more open as we reached the closing stages.
A back pass put the Nelson goalkeeper under pressure with Ben Bolton and Shaun Brady approaching at pace. His poor clearance found the latter and following screams of “chip him” from the Ruskin crowd he did just that but put way too much power on the effort.
The game ended 2 apiece, with the gap remaining at 6 points between the 2 sides. Town travel to Holker Old Boys next Saturday before hosting high flying Whitchurch Alport on February 10th.
FT: St Helens Town (Edwards, 61) (Presho, 72) 2 – 2 Nelson (Turner, 33, 81)