ST HELENS Town are set to hit the road again, provided they can overcome Consett in this Saturday's re-arranged Carlsberg FA Vase fourth round tie in County Durham.

For the prize for the victors will be a fifth round trip down south to face one of Rymans League pair, Berkhamstead (Herts) or Hornchurch (Essex).

Incredibly this would be Town's sixth successive away draw but no one is counting any chickens as Saturday's clash is all that occupies manager Jimmy McBride's mind at the moment.

Although it is frustrating that they have had limited chances to display their table-topping credentials to a new audience at Knowsley Road, Town have simply got to get on with things on their travels and have turned in a marvellous record of just one defeat in 17 outings on away soil.

Last Saturday's trip to Consett was in the balance until the 11th hour when snow descended upon the once-vibrant steel town to necessitate a re-run this Saturday at the hosts' Belle Vue Park ground (coach leaves 9am, kick off 3pm).

This meant a complete blank-out of Town's weekly schedule as the Tuesday night previously, their proposed trip to Haig Avenue to face Southport in the quarte- final of the Liverpool Senior Cup fell victim to frost as the Sandgrounders' Vauxhall Conference pitch became rock hard after sunset. That particular encounter was due to be re-run this week (Tuesday, January 23) but the lay-off is not what Town needed at the moment.

It does, however, allow nagging injuries to keeper Phil Wood, striker Gary Laird and left back Stu Phoenix to respond, while skipper Gary Jones has regained full fitness after a heavy bout of flu. To this end, Town have been served superbly by a very strong 20-man squad and with a possibility of near 60 games to complete this term, all will be required in the heavy schedule to come.

On the NWCL domestic scene, Town still head the chase for a Unibond League place but the top six underwent a re-shuffle on Saturday when both Fleetwood and Newcastle Town registered home wins in the league's only two matches played. The 'Freeport Shrimpers' leapfrogged into third while the Potteries outfit, having been the runners-up for two years running, took closer order in fifth.

Town have yet to meet either of these rising sides and in the crucial weeks to come Knowsley Road will stage several other 'six-pointers' with the likes of Mossley, Rossendale United, Ramsbottom United and Prescot Cables still to visit. These are very exciting though extremely demanding times for the St Helens side and it is hoped the local public can get behind them in appreciation of what has been thus achieved.

And the next task is to overcome Consett, even if it means a replay at Knowsley Road the following Saturday (February 3).