Alport 5 St Helens Town 1

Whitchurch ended 2017 on a high with a sixth successive victory to move up to fourth in the North West Counties First Division table.

More than 220 spectators turned up to Yockings in expectant mood – and when an own goal set the Reds on their way after six minutes, there were hopes of a goal glut.

Eventually that’s how it panned out but Town had chances to take the lead after Danny Lomax had cancelled out the opener from the penalty spot midway through the first half.

But after that Alport played really well on a gluepot of a pitch and Ben Mills, Elliot Ledwards, Sean Griffiths and Dean Twigg made sure of another three points.

Once the own goal had gone in, Alport really could have put the game to bed even before goalkeeper Danny Read was judged to have upended the Town striker.

The linesman on the far side flagged and a spot kick was awarded. Read was summonsed to the match official and there were hearts in mouths all around, but thankfully the card colour was of the lighter shade.

Read has an incredible record of saving penalties but Lomax’s kick gave the stopper no chance.

After that Alport were a long way from their best and the cohesion that is usually in the team’s DNA went missing up to and just after half-time.

The away side had two great chances but both were spurned, although Ledwards defended brilliantly to hack away from his own goal line.

Those misses were to prove very costly indeed and from then on Alport put the afterburners on and demonstrated their power.

Mills picked out the bottom corner with an opportunist finish on 55 minutes to lift the crowd and Ledwards popped up in the opposing area 10 minutes later to score a scruffy – but vital – third.

The lift for all the players was clearly evident and recent capture Griffith bundled the ball in at the far post as the Reds began to dominate.

Substitute Twigg completed the nap hand six minutes from time – and with games in hand on all the sides above them, Alport are well placed to mount a challenge for automatic promotion.

If they can start 2018 the way they ended 2017, Goddard’s men have to be taken as serious challengers for one of the two places that guarantee a path to the Premier Division.