Newquay 1 Liskeard Athletic 1

THE advantage in the title race switched back to St Austell at the weekend as Liskeard dropped more points and the Lillywhites won at Holsworthy.

Before Thursday, leaders St Austell held a two-point advantage but Darren Gilbert’s side had two games in-hand and were fancied to leapfrog them into top spot.

But a shock 2-1 defeat by Newquay at Lux Park on Thursday night, the Blues’ first home league loss of the season, set the cat among the pigeons and Saturday’s results handed the advantage back to Chris Knight’s men.

They now hold a four-point advantage and would remain top even if Liskeard won their game in-hand.

A weakened Liskeard, without the likes of Harvey Mullis, Harry Bell, Will Gilbert and Harry Jeffery, suffered a blow within five minutes of Saturday’s kick-off at Mount Wise when influential centre half Dylan Peel had to limp off with a hamstring strain which might end his season.

Despite this, the Blues dominated the first half, eager to get revenge for Thursday’s setback, and they did everything but score in a half in which youngster Cal Merrin, making a rare start, caught the eye wide on the right.

Max Gilbert, sent off 48 hours earlier, might have given Liskeard a seventh minute lead with a rasping 20-yard shot but Newquay keeper Brodie Cole brilliantly tipped the ball around the post.

Best chance of the half fell to the Blues in the 29th minute when a throw-in from Matt Outtram on the right was flicked on by Charlie Young to Jarrad Woods, who arrived in the six-yard box and seemed certain to score, but headed straight into Cole’s grateful arms on the line.

Newquay, who defended brilliantly in the first half, came out more in the second half and threatened occasionally on the break, although Liskeard keeper Cory Harvey had little to do.

It was simply a question of whether the visitors could find a breakthrough and it eventually came with 13 minutes left as Jarrad Woods released Merrin along the right and the winger held off a couple of challenges before finishing brilliantly from 15 yards.

Top scorer Dan Jennings, who had been surprisingly left out of the starting line-up before replacing the ineffective Young midway through the second half, was twice denied by Cole what would have been a vital second Liskeard goal.

But with only seven minutes left, Newquay equalised from a set piece. The ball from close to the centre circle by Cam Turner, was launched into the penalty area where it was headed across goal by Harry Downing to the onrushing Tom Moxham, who smashed past Harvey into the net.

It was a stunning blow for Liskeard, who spent the remainder of the game camped in the Newquay half trying to find a winner which just wouldn’t come.

Liskeard’s remaining game in hand comes at Callington on Friday but they will be without the suspended Max Gilbert and the injured Jeffery (broken metatarsal) and Peel (hamstring).

NEWQUAY: Brodie Cole, Callum Edlin, Josh Evans, Tom Moxham, Harry Downing, Ross Fallens (Rudi Sharp 72), Tom Shepherd, Cam Turner, Harrie Tilston (Ewan Travers 78), Coen Briggs, Louis Price. Subs not used: Scott Flannigan, Drew Brion, James Peters (gk).

LISKEARD ATHLETIC: Cory Harvey, Josh McCabe, Matt Outtram, Tom Savigar (Macauley Thorp 87), Dylan Peel (Will Westlake 5), Ruben Kane, Callum Merrin, Jarrad Woods, Charlie Young (Dan Jennings 65), Max Gilbert, Ben Collins. Sub not used: Sam Borthwick (gk).

Men of the Match: Newquay – Brodie Cole; Liskeard – Cal Merrin.