THE first league derby between Wigan Robin Park and St Helens Town ended in a 3-0 victory for the Robins.
And the eagerly-awaited grudge Premier Division match was given extra spice with 11 of the 16-man Town squad being ex-Robins.
Add in the fact St Helens are managed by Ian Granite – who guided Robin Park reserves to the title last year – and it was a mouth-watering prospect that awaited the Park faithful.
With vital points and bragging rights at stake the game was, perhaps surprisingly, played in an excellent spirit with both teams respecting each other and looking to play football at all times.
Saints had the better of the early exchanges but on 15 minutes, and with the Robins first meaningful attack, they opened the scoring.
Mike Wood played a lovely through ball to Richie Livingston who crossed to the back post where Joe Hull headed back to Phil Howard for a tap-in.
Eight minutes later, the Robins doubled their lead when a corner was met by Ian Rowlands, whose powerful header was palmed away by Lee Novak.
However, the ball went straight to Livingston, who lobbed it over the stranded Town keeper.
It was now all Robins as their midfield began spraying the ball around the pitch.
Livingston was denied his second when Novak saved at his feet, while Colin Quirk hit the bar with a thunderbolt from 25 yards, and Howard and Hull both went close.
Hull was to get his reward on the stroke of half-time with the goal of the game.
It was similar to the first goal when another Livingston cross to the back post this time found Howard, who returned the favour for Hull to head home from close range.
The second half was just a matter of seeing the game out for the Robins, which they managed with considerable ease.
St Helens were limited to long-range efforts, with their best attempt coming from Shaun Judge, whose 35-yard shot stung Jay Foulds’ hands.
The Robins looked for more goals as Livingston, Howard and substitute James Edgar all went close, but the second half remained goalless.
The opposition gave the man-of-the-match accolade to the classy Quirk, while Livingston picked up the Robins’ supporters award.
Assistant manager Foulds said: “It was strange playing against a load of lads that are mates of ours, but I thought we were superbly professional.
“Ian Rowlands was class at the back, Richie Livingston is proving the find of the season and Quirky will have to move to a bigger house soon to accommodate all his man-of-the match trophies.
“Most importantly,the result keeps us in touch with the leading pack and, at the minute, we are about where we thought we would be.”
Park travel to Daisy Hill tonight for a Co-operative Lancashire Trophy second-round tie.
The Robins will be looking to go one step further in this competition than last season when they lost to Chorley in the semi-final.
This Saturday, they travel to East Lancashire to take on the league’s form side, Colne.
ASHTON Athletic ensured local bragging rights by winning a thrilling derby 4-3 in the Atherton Charity Cup last Thursday night.
Athletic flew out of the blocks and opened up a 2-0 lead, before Town skipper Callum Best pulled one back just before the break.
Best’s equaliser at the start of the second period made it game on, and both sides had chances to go in front.
Athletic regained their grip on the game with two more goals to make it 4-2, and then missed a penalty that would have sealed the victory.
Best came close to pulling one back when he fired against a post, with Callum Johnson unable to net the rebound.
Town’s star man did complete his hat-trick in the closing stages but Athletic hung on for the win.