St Helens v City


This fixture has a history of producing plenty of goals and late dramatic finishes, so this game was perhaps a disappointment in that respect, but City comfortably notched their fifth successive win over St Helens. It was a quite a changed City side, with Ballantyne returning in goal, and first league starts of the season for Henry Walker, Carl Carr and Darren Addison.

The home side began with an early free-kick from Greene that was cleared by the City defence, and City broke quickly through McCartney to win the game’s first corner but this led to nothing. It was a feature of the first half that St Helens attacked strongly down their right flank and Smith’s 5th-minute cross flew dangerously across the 6-yard box. Ballantyne made his first save on 8 minutes as he comfortably held Diggle’s shot.

A free-kick from Renyard after 12 minutes was blocked by the home wall and the same player quickly followed up with a blistering drive that had to be pushed up and over by Williams. The game was end to end at this stage and Ballantyne did well in the 14th minute to push the ball away for a home corner, and for a spell St Helens were enjoying the greater share of possession.

After 23 minutes, Walker did well to intercept on the left and his pass fed Renyard but he wasted a very good position with an over-hit cross. Two minutes later, a strong run up the right flank from Presho looked dangerous but his cross caught a colleague in an offside position. McCartney won a City corner in the 27th minute but, once again, Renyard saw his well-struck effort saved by Williams.

In the 32nd minute, City went ahead in very fortuitous fashion. A left-wing cross from Renyard looked as if it would be routinely cleared, but a slightly wild volley from Whelan flew up in the air, wrong-footed Williams, and dropped into the empty net. Three minutes later, it really should have been two as Blair was played clean through but could only hit Williams’ legs with his shot. In the 40th minute, Ballantyne was in action again, to save a 30-yard shot from Moffitt.


The second half started in bizarre fashion as the match ball was quickly kicked out of the ground and all the replacements appeared to be in a sack in the tea-hut, which caused a brief delay to play. City forced the early play in this half, and Shiel fired just wide. A home corner in the 50th minute was cleared and, two minutes later, Renyard’s free-kick flew across the box. The same player, just two minutes later, hit his free-kick very well but it flew a yard or so wide of goal.

The first booking of the game went to Smith after a foul in midfield. City’s full-back Walker got forward well to deliver two fine crosses in quick succession which had to be dealt with by the home defence. On the hour, the ball dropped nicely for Blair with his shot looking well wide before it deflected for a corner. City’s first booking went to Shiel for pulling a shirt in the centre of the field.

The home side were close to levelling on 63 minutes as Greenslade had to be alert to clear the loose ball off his own line, with Ballantyne beaten. Just two minutes later, City capitalised on this with a second goal as an incisive pass from Armstrong found Renyard on the left and his inside pass was sweetly finished by Shiel, for his second goal in successive games.

There was then a booking for City’s Armstrong , which will earn him a suspension next week-end. A home free-kick from Greene was not far wide before, in the 70th minute, Renyard came close at the other end. Renyard had been well-involved throughout the game and he was soon wide again, from 18 yards out. He kept coming back for more and possibly should have scored on 74 minutes as the goal was open but a defender blocked his shot on the line, with Addison’s follow-up also blocked.

City then made three changes as Hickey, Johnstone and Heath came on, with Carr, Blair and Addison going off. To be fair to the home side, they never gave up and probably should have pulled one back before the end but a chance at the front post was missed before Johnstone tried his luck from 30 yards and was not too far over.
There was a booking for O’Connor before another late home chance was missed when it looked easier to score.

TEAMS- ST HELENS- Williams, Presho, O’Connor, Whelan, Webster, Duke, Smith, Moffitt, Diggle, Greene, Grimshaw SUBS- Furlong, Devlin, Grier, Mangan, Cliff

CITY- Ballantyne, Carr, Walker, Greenslade, Slack, Armstrong, Addison, Shiel, McCartney, Blair, Renyard SUBS- Hickey, Heath, Johnstone, Townsley, Tose

STAR MEN- Webster (St Helens- on his 200th appearance), Slack (City)

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