Mills Thrills Alport as Town lose at Ruskin.
A brace from Benjamin Mills helps give Whitchurch Alport a comfortable victory.
This match report is sponsored by Top Car Detailing
Sport in St Helens was on full showcase at the Arcroframe Stadium this afternoon as Pilkington Recs participated in the Rugby League Challenge Cup next door to St Helens Town’s contest against Whitchurch Alport.
Melissa Grace and family were present at the match who are part of the Melissa's Smile fund, raising awareness for Angelman Syndrome. Melissa's friendly smile has also charmed players, supports and officials from Whitchurch Alport. Our opponents have, along with St Helens Town, supported the fund for some time, and it was great to see all three parties unite as Melissa lead out the players before the match commenced.
If you would like to find out more about Melissa's Smile or fund the page, visit this link https://www.gofundme.com/sharethesmileteam
The game started with a backdrop of chants of “Red Army!” from the number of travelling supporters packed in the Ruskin Drive stand on a rainy afternoon. The opening exchanges were filled with physicality as both sides adjusted to a slippery surface, and some suspect first touches from either side were almost punished.
The first attempt on target of the match produced the first goal on 12 minutes. With the ball going dead the referee judged that St Helens keeper Carl Williams touched the ball last, giving a corner. While the goalie was protesting with the referee Whitchurch took the corner quickly, and Benjamin Mills was left with a free header to put the ball past a scrambling Williams.
In a game void of chances, it was St Helens that created the next. A direct run from Luke Edwards on the left ended in a low cross to find Liam Diggle in the centre. The chance was a hard one and Diggle did well to get a good connection, but his shot flashed past the left-hand post.
Edwards was the architect of another Town chance later on; Michael Furlong played a well timed through ball to put him through, but his powerful drive was saved by the Alport keeper and into the side netting.
Despite Town’s chances, it was Whitchurch who extended their lead. Scorer of the first goal Ben Mills was allowed too much time on the edge of the area and picked his spot before arrowing an effort into the far corner.
Town’s risky play at the back gave the away fans more fuel to get behind their team, as their defence stifled Town’s attacking threat for the most part, putting the Blues defence under pressure.
Alport completed a perfect half just before the whistle. Their back-post corner routine finally paid off as a floated corner was met by Hovik Nersesyan as the visitors went into the half time break with a healthy lead.
HT: St Helens Town 0 – 3 Whitchurch Alport (Mills, 12, 38) (Nersesyan, 45+1)
The blues come out for the second half in a more positive mood and gave themselves some hope of a miraculous comeback within 3 minutes of the restart. Liam Diggle peeled off the left, picked up the ball and laid it off to an onrushing Matty Smith who finished smartly with the outside of his boot.
The hopes of a comeback were nearly extinguished minutes later, Michael Furlong gave the ball away cheaply in midfield which allowed an Alport break. The ball found Simon Everall but his effort produced a good save from Carl Williams in the Town goal.
As the last 20 minutes came, the game became more open as both sides thought they had a good chance of adding to their tally. St Helens took off Shaun Brady and replaced him with Alex Ashby on the right-hand side, while Matty Smith continued to drive forward at every opportunity as Michael Furlong screened the defence.
Town had a huge chance to reduce the deficit further with 10 minutes to go. A teasing cross from Alex Ashby was put on a plate for Liam Diggle but the forward couldn’t connect properly with the cross. The loose ball found Luke Edwards, but his powerful shot could only flash across the face of goal. This was his last action as he was replaced by Hal McHugh.
Town were to rue this missed chance as minutes later Alport restored their 3-goal lead. Some poor marking from a corner allowed substitute Elliot Ledwards to have a free header and nod the ball home for a fourth Whitchurch goal.
Alport capped of a 5-star match by adding a fifth in stoppage time. Captain Simon Everall was allowed through on goal, and rounded the goalkeeper before slotting home.
St Helens worked hard, and a 5-1 score line may not reflect this, however with 3 goals conceded from set pieces, there’s a definite area of focus in training for manager Lee Jenkinson.
FT: St Helens Town (Smith, 48) 1 – 5 Whitchurch Alport (Mills, 12, 38) (Nersesyan, 45+1) (Ledwards, 84) (Simon Everall, 90+2)