STEETON almost claimed a superb point at home to FC St Helens on Saturday, only to concede twice late on in a 3-1 defeat against the North West Counties Football League First Division North leaders.

But plaudits do not mean points for Steeton, and a combination of poor form over autumn and winter, as well their home ground Marley only just becoming available again after a six-week hiatus due to a gas supply issue, has seen them slide towards the bottom three.

They are only four points clear of the drop with 10 games to go this season, and need a win sooner rather than later, ideally at relegation rivals Garstang in their next game this weekend.

It was an emotional start to proceedings at Marley on Saturday, with Steeton’s guest of honour being former player Nicky Trowers, who has undergone extensive brain surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy since being diagnosed with a brain tumour back in 2016.

An impressive crowd of 240 fans turned out to support Trowers and the two sides and they were rewarded with a slow burner of a game that had a thrilling finish.

Craven Herald: Nicky Trowers was given this guard of honour on an emotional start to the afternoon at Marley.Nicky Trowers was given this guard of honour on an emotional start to the afternoon at Marley. (Image: Ian Meachin.)

St Helens were on top in the early stages, but their only chance of note was a Josh Hall shot that flashed just wide after five minutes.

Midway through the first half, Steeton almost took a surprise lead when Luke Baldwin weaved his way through on goal, only for his effort to be deflected behind for a corner.

That lucky escape seemed to spur the visitors into action, with both Jack Lynn and Alfie Gibbon forced into brilliant blocks to keep the Stripes out just before the half-hour mark.

James Catlow then made a stunning save in the Steeton goal to deny Joe Barker, but he was beaten moments later when Jack Ball’s corner was headed home by Hall.

Barker thought he had added an instant second for the visitors only to be flagged for offside.

Steeton were clinging on, and the Stripes blew two brilliant chances before the break, putting a free header wide and lifting a gilt-edged opportunity over the bar from two yards out.

Josh McKiernon came inches away from getting a touch on a dangerous Steeton free-kick on the stroke of half-time, and that buoyed the Chevrons, who were the better team just after the break.

But St Helens soon warmed the gloves of Catlow from a free-kick, before Tom Scarborough spooned wide for the visitors from a yard out, only for his blushes to be saved by the offside flag.

Steeton then somehow survived a triple attempt from Hall, Scarborough and Barker on the hour mark, before the latter had an effort cleared off the line by Gibbon after a poor backpass sold Catlow short.

Craven Herald: Steeton had their backs against the wall for much of Saturday afternoon, and were forced to do a lot of defending.Steeton had their backs against the wall for much of Saturday afternoon, and were forced to do a lot of defending. (Image: Ian Meachin.)

A volley from the dominant Stripes cleared the crossbar, yet with eight minutes to go, Steeton equalised against the run of play.

The visitors made the fatal mistake of allowing a dangerous ball to bounce and Ezio De Santis took full advantage by getting in behind the centre half and slotting the ball inside the post.

In a chaotic ending, Ethan Hudson-Parker found himself through on goal for Steeton, only to be denied by the offside flag, before a home defender almost scored an own goal by inadvertently looping a header over Catlow on to the post and out for a corner.

But from the subsequent set-piece, Hall headed the ball home to put St Helens back in front with four minutes left.

And the visitors finished off Steeton once and for all moments later, Nathan Salisbury coming off the bench to head home with his first-ever touch in a St Helens shirt.