Cheadle Town 1-2 St Helens Town

Begone, January 2016, and may another month like it never darken our door again.

This was the fourth straight defeat in all competitions, a sequence that has allowed the pack surrounding us in the league table to close in further and see the whites of our eyes. It's going to make for an interesting run-in.

Churlish as it is to cite refereeing decisions as the sole reason for failing to get a result, the one that was made deep into stoppage time had everybody scratching their head.

Tom Elford's pacey lump into the penalty area seemed to be completely missed by the St Helens keeper with the ball ending up in the back of the net and said custodian left in a heap with various other bodies.

Unfortunately for us the referee had decided that the St Helens keeper had been impeded in his efforts to catch the ball - an infringement that wasn't obvious to anybody wearing green - leaving everybody bemused.

An alternative sub-plot to this match was that St Helens should have been out-of-sight by then and the referee's curious decision at the end wouldn't have mattered either way. After going 2-1 up they squandered a host of chances to make the game safe, drilling wide with only Tom Elford to beat and, when they did manage to get the ball past Tom, forcing us into a last-ditch hack off the line.

When George Lomax went through on the hour mark and clipped past the oncoming Tom Elford to ultimately score the winning goal, it came sixty seconds after James Horan had seen a similar effort fingertipped past the post. Such are the fine lines in football at times.

That small passage reflected the mainly to-and-fro nature of the game...

...one that started poorly for us. After just three minutes Tom Elford seemed to have control of the ball from a St Helens corner in his hand one minute and was picking it out of the net the next; Gillespie marking his 100th appearance for the visitors by stabbing home with us protesting that it was from clean out of Tom's hands.

Chris Sherrington was then pivotal as we enjoyed a decent spell. He smacked a shot off the crossbar with 12 minutes gone before side-netting two minutes later after latching onto a cross.

Just before the half-hour mark St Helens missed a glorious chance to extend the lead. Michael Sacks miscontrolled a pass from Tom Elford straight into the path of a St Helens attacker with him thankfully planting it hopelessly wide.

James Horan was inches short of making decent contact with a Whyatt cross on the half-hour mark before we finally forced the ball home with five minutes of the half remaining. Luke Hincks' cross inviting all manner of Cheadle bodies to fling themselves at the ball with it eventually breaking for Chris Sherrington on the left of the box to slam home.

St Helens forced Tom Elford into a decent save at the start of the second half with Chris Sherrington just unable to shape his body in the right way to get the shot off following a cross, enabling the St Helens keeper to make the block.

Straight down the other end again and St Helens had the ball in the net following some sloppy play from us, but thankfully it was given offside, before a smart move from us resulted in Liam Tongue's effort from range being saved.

All of this in the first five minutes of the second half!

Tom Elford had to make another smart save at his near post on 56 minutes with us then managing to somehow flash the ball right across the goal-line with no takers to prod it home.

We did have the ball in the net in the last ten minutes but it was to be the second offside decision of the day...before the confusion that then reigned in stoppage time.

After spending the whole of January at Park Road, February starts with two trips on the road to Rochdale Town and Hanley Town before Stockport Town and Atherton LR make the visit to SK8 2AN. Here's hoping that a different month brings different results.

Onwards.

Footage of the match, courtesy of David Wright.