FC St Helens visit Steeton tomorrow in buoyant mood following last Saturday’s 3-0 win over play-off chasers Ilkley Town.
Last weekend’s performance was only bettered by the All Stripes’ 5-0 win in the corresponding fixture against this weekend’s hosts – as far as this season’s form is concerned.
What happened last time?
St Helens hit five without reply the last time these sides met on September 30.
Four came from marksman Joe Barker as he began a run of two hat-tricks from as many league appearances.
Joe Doyle added his name to the scoresheet as The Stripes maintained their fine start to the campaign and remained unbeaten in eight matches on home soil.
FC St Helens
For the most-part FC St Helens have been hard to beat this season and rightfully remain on top spot in what is just their second ever season at this level.
But a six-match winless run, including four losses in all competitions, rudely disrupted the flow of their season.
Mike Smith’s side did finally put that right with their comfortable 3-0 victory over fellow promotion chasers Ilkley on Saturday – with Barker, in addition to new signings Josh Hall and Brendan O’Brien being the focal points of a flourishing team performance.
Can they leave that poor form in the rear-view mirror and begin a positive run of fixtures, with 14 league fixtures remaining?
Steeton’s campaign got off to a mixed start.
They lost 4-0 to Atherton LR on the opening weekend of the season before going on a three-match winning streak.
Results fluctuated between wins and losses until FC St Helens’ 5-0 win in the corresponding fixture saw them endure a barren run of one win in nine fixtures – a spell which they are still unable to break.
While FC St Helens were putting Ilkley to the sword last Saturday, Steeton marginally came short to relegation battlers Daisy Hill, losing 2-1.
With that, they have shown signs of improvement on their current form – can they leave that bad run behind, against a team that have beaten them in each of their three meetings?
Ones to watch:
The midfielder has displayed the style and finesse of a player capable of performing above this level – the previous couple of matches haven’t been an exception.
He may have just the solitary goal to his name in 12 appearances for the campaign, but the stats don’t tell the full story.
The tough-tackling middleman is always eager to get involved and often dictates how his side perform.
Six goals for the season sees Townsend top the ranks for Steeton – where he just gets the better of Josh Coe, who has five.
The combined goal tally of the two makes up just shy of half of the club’s total in the league, having scored just 23, only one more than Barker on his own this season.
With three goals from his opening four matches for the season, Townsend’s ability to find the net has been tempered ever so slightly.
But with an average better than one in four matches, his goals, four of which have been in wins, could prove integral in his team’s fight to keep their head above water.