Vase trail: Ghost Town
By Gary Broughton
Updated Sunday, 3rd October 2010
Match 3. Saturday 2nd October 2010. 1st Round. St. Helens Town v Oldham Boro. Edge Green Street, Ashton.
A brave Oldham Boro went down narrowly to St. Helens Town at a deserted Edge Green Street. With the Saints in the process of relocating to a new stadium along with their rugby counterparts, it was Ashton Town's ground which hosted the tie between St. Helens Town and our latest Vase team.
Having witnessed Boro's tussle against Abbey Hey in the previous round, I was fully expecting the Saints to win this first round encounter pretty comfortably, but a battling Boro can count themselves unlucky after a valiant effort against higher division opponents.
Saints were playing down the slope in the first half, but Boro certainly had the edge in the opening exchanges, with the no 11 firing a 20-yard shot across goal and just wide of the upright, and having a rasping goalbound shot blocked by the penalty spot.
It took Saints half an hour to work the Boro keeper, with the no 11 forcing a save with a low shot from distance, but several minutes of possession and pressure lead to them breaking the deadlock when a cross in from the right was poked home close in by the post by Pearson.
With the slope in their favour in the second half, Boro will have felt they were still in the game, but within six minutes of the restart they saw Saints double their lead as some comical defending from four Boro players allowed Pearson to wriggle free 10 yards out and stroke home under the keeper.
It should have been over five minutes later, but a delicious ball across the box was sidefooted back across goal and wide from four yards out by the Saints no 5.
And on 64 minutes it was game on when the Saints keeper brought down a Boro attacker in the box. He received a yellow card for the foul, though many argued it should have been red. A tough call, but he remained on the field, though he could do nothing to stop Schofield finding the bottom right hand corner with his spot kick.
With 20 minutes left, the Boro no 11 foraged down the left and fired in a shot. The keeper spilled the ball by his line, and the no 5 nipped in for what appeared to be an equaliser, but the linesman cut short the celebrations in the visiting dugout, raising his flag for offside.
Boro tried their best to snatch the elusive equalising goal, but a poor choice of final ball on more than one occasion failed to see them trouble the keeper. And it was Saints who came closest in the final minutes as the no 8 forced the visiting keeper to tip over.
So for the third time in a row (counting Nelson), our followed team fails to win a match, and that probably spells curtains for St. Helens Town, who we will now be following on into round two.
It's 30 years since The Specials belted out the haunting classic "Ghost Town", and sadly that's what it felt like on Saturday, with few of the Saints supporters making the eight mile trip east. It was however a reasonable game which took place in pleasant conditions and in good spirit.
FA VASE TRAIL SO FAR (team followed in capitals)
1st Qualifying Round
Sat 04 Sep 3pm NELSON v Abbey Hey (walkover for Abbey Hey)
2nd Qualifying Round
Sat 18 Sep 3pm ABBEY HEY 0 Oldham Boro 0 (after extra time)
2nd Qualifying Round Replay
Tue 21 Sep 7.45pm Oldham Boro 3 ABBEY HEY 2 (after extra time, played at Abbey Hey)
Sat 02 Oct 3.00pm St. Helens Town 2 OLDHAM BORO 1 (played at Ashton Town)