Fogarty gives Saints title ultimatum


In a fiercely competitive encounter, a goal in added time consigned Saints to a second successive Saturday defeat to one of their closest rivals, dealing a serious blow to their promotion hopes, writes David Hucker.

Although still in second place, Saints are no longer in control of their own destiny, needing other results to go their way. But, while disappointed with the result, manager Luke Fogarty still believes his side can lift the title.

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“It was a physical game in which we didn’t play well in the first half, but turned things round after the break and could have won,” said Fogarty.

“We need to roll our sleeves up now and decide if we really want to win the title. I still have faith in the players, but some of them need to up their game and show what they can do. We will regroup and look to get back to winning ways tomorrow and see how the other results go.”

With Swifts needing to win to keep their title hopes alive and Saints looking to go above leaders Continental Star, this was always likely to be a full-blooded affair and so it turned out, with referee Simon Hill the busiest man on the field. He sent off Bolehall’s Daniel Hales for a second bookable offence and issued six more yellow cards, three to each side.

After Saints had been on top early on, it was Swifts who took the lead in the 15th minute when the home defence failed to clear a corner and captain Michael Swan headed home.

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Swifts grew in confidence and were the better side, although lucky not to lose defender Tom Starkey, who escaped with a yellow card after a bad foul on Simeon Smith.

They could have made it two on the stroke of half-time, but were denied by the woodwork and Saints went in at the break with a real task on their hands to get something from the match.

The tide turned within minutes of the restart when Smith, who had left Bolehall in acrimonious circumstances before Christmas, levelled the scores with his 13th goal for the club.

Despite their efforts, Saints struggled to add a second, with substitute Ross Jackson going closest, but putting his shot wide.

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Then, in the third minute of added time, a shot from substitute Craig Haywood was deflected by Luke Church past keeper Jim Stott to give Swifts a valuable win.

Tomorrow, Saints are away to Castle Vale JKS, who lost 4-2 at Pelsall Villa last time out.

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