Clitheroe 4 St Helens Town 1

Burscough 0 St Helens Town 1 TWO totally contrasting displays and results in four days illustrated Town's highs and lows.

And although the slump at Clitheroe on Saturday was most baffling, they got switched on again at Burscough on Tuesday night to inflict the Linnets first defeat in 15 matches after 14 straight wins had taken them to the top. Revenge was sweet, indeed, following Burscough's narrow Floodlit trophy final win over 10-man St Helens a month ago and just to underline the injustice Town believe was done that night they put a spanner firmly in the works of Burscough's title charge. However, four days earlier they were unrecognisable at Clitheroe as a lifeless, jaded display meant easy pickings for the hosts. Poor cover on corner kicks was their downfall as first Smith drove home via the crossbar in the 12th minute before another flag kick in the 30th minute saw Mullen convert at the far post. When Smith scored his second goal with a 36th minute lob it seemed that things could get embarrassing. Bryan Griffiths reduced the arrears from the penalty spot in the 69th minute following a foul on Williams but any thoughts of a revival were ended by a firm volley by Clitheroe's Hill with 12 minutes remaining.

Just to illustrate that this was a mere 'off day' Town got fully focused again at Burscough where everyone was a hero with Glenn Walker simply magnificent at the back. Playing uphill and into a strong breeze first, Town did well despite conceding several corner kicks and Allison had to be alert in saving from ex Hoghton Roader Billy Knowles on a couple of occasions while league top scorer Robbie Cowley also was denied by a good block.

Town, too, had a couple of promising situations and a 40th minute link between Gilmore, O'Neill and Pennington ended with the latter driving over from 18 yards. Now with the elements in their favour, Town asked the early questions after the break and Blasberry had to be sharp to snatch the ball from Pennington after Quirk's shot had taken a deflection. The home keeper then got down well to another Quirk shot but the turning point of the match occurred in the 55th minute when Burscough's Wilde wasted a good chance by heading directly at Allison who promptly cleared, and with Nolan only succeeding in heading backwards, Steve O'Neill nipped in to lob over Blasberry's advance to put St Helens ahead. Tonight Thursday, Town meet Glossop at Hoghton Road 7.30pm and on Saturday Rossendale United come to St Helens 3pm.

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