Two goals from striker David Gray, his first of the season, proved a perfect birthday gift for Bacup Borough boss Brent Peters at Edge Green Street yesterday evening. Peters had understandably kept faith with the team that performed so well against Maine Road on Saturday, going with the same starting line-up. The only change in personnel was the return of team captain Daniel Cocks to the bench after serving his two match suspension for an accumulation of bookings.
In front of a sparse attendance Borough struggled in the initial stages of the game playing uphill. They were being pushed far deeper than on Saturday and were not able to make any overlapping runs. The first chance of the game fell to St. Helens with Ashton going close with an 18th minute header. Three minutes later Karl Stanley, again rolling back the years, produced an excellent cross which could only be headed straight up in the air by Tommy Turner. Moments later Bacup’s first strike at goal came courtesy of a well struck effort from Paul Nelson which was charged down by the home defence. However Nelson was struggling against the very physical hosts and in the 40th minute he was replaced by Dave Limabrooke after the Saints had pinned Borough back with a series of corners. In the 41st minute Stoker’s shot across goal seemed destined for the far corner until Ryan Jones produced a good save to deflect it for another corner. With a minute to the interval home keeper Lee Novak was finally called into action as he made a tidy save to keep out Stanley’s snapshot but the half ended with two more corners for the home side. HALF-TIME: St. Helens Town 0 Bacup Borough 0
Peters was entitled to expect more forward play from his side in the second half as they attacked down the hill, and in fairness he got it. Limabrooke looked brimming with confidence after his goal on Saturday and he tested Novak with a low effort on 51 minutes. David Gray then tried his luck with a shot that looped over the top of the crossbar. That was on 54 minutes and ten minutes later the same player made the breakthrough. His energetic running down the right had seen him linking up well with Stanley and Turner and this combination caused major second half problems for the home defence. The goal arrived on the right with Gray powering forward before unleashing a rasping drive that beat Novak all ends up. Bacup were now very much on top and four minutes later Turner almost doubled the lead but his first time effort was well held by Novak. The prolific frontman then had two further efforts at goal, the first blocked by a defender, the second held by Novak. A sour note to the proceedings saw Darren Evans collect a 70th minute booking for what looked a firm but fair tackle. Two minutes later a great break down the left from Turner saw him thread an inch perfect pass across the face of goal to the awaiting Gray at the far post, who had the simplest of tap-ins. Borough continued to press and Evans was denied a third by Novak. Arron Kirk’s 77th minute strike saw Novak only able to parry and the ball almost fell for Turner but the danger was cleared. With four minutes remaining Peters gave a breather to Gray and Turner, bringing on Paul Arrowsmith and Martin Cosgrave. There seemed no way back into the game for St. Helens but in the 89th minute Chris Williams stole in at the near post to reduce the arrears. The home side then forced a corner which saw Bacup hanging on in a game they had previously looked totally comfortable in and the frustration of captain on the night Gareth Wager was evident as he collected a booking for dissent following the awarding of a free-kick to the home side. However, the final whistle sounded moments later and Borough recorded their fourth win in five games to lift themselves above Silsden into 17th place and now well clear of the dogfight at the bottom. FULL-TIME: St. Helens Town 1 Bacup Borough 2
BACUP BOROUGH: Jones, Wager, Bryan, Morgan, Butorins, Evans, Stanley, Gray (sub. Arrowsmith 86 mins), Turner (sub. Cosgrave 86 mins), Kirk, Nelson (sub. Arrowsmith 40 mins). Subs Not Used: Birtles, Cocks. Attendance: 39
MATCH STATS: SHOTS ON TARGET: St. Helens Town 5 Bacup Borough 12 SHOTS OFF TARGET: St. Helens Town 8 Bacup Borough 3 CORNERS: St. Helens Town 8 Bacup Borough 2