NANTWICH Town's weaknesses at the back haunted them again as they went down 3-2 at the hands of title challengers St Helens Town.
The Dabbers rocked the second-placed side with an incisive attacking display and were in the ascendancy twice. But the leaky rear-guard, which has shipped 15 goals in four games, cost them dear.
In blustery conditions Steve Davis's side matched the visitors in terms of play. But they have now failed to record a win in seven outings.
Nantwich started by firing on all cylinders. Matt Blake repaid the manager's faith in him by firing them into a second minute lead after visiting keeper Paul Dahl could not hold Paul Rutter's strike.
And the former Crewe Alex trainee almost added a second on 20 minutes after he was played in by Melvyn Morrison, but this time Dahl did well to tip the effort round the post at full stretch.
Blake's speed and Rutter's move-ment caused Saints problems all afternoon, but on 22 minutes the experienced side were back on level terms. Richie Townsend's glancing header was drifting wide but Stuart Hilton slid in to hit home.
David Barnes rifled a speculative 35-yard free-kick wide of the target and Tony McMullen spurned two excellent chances to give Saints the lead, but keeper Danny Reade and defender Matt Bradbury did well.
Town skipper Danny Griggs, Rutter and Blake all missed gilt-edged chances to take a lead into the break, but it was all-square.
The Dabbers continued their lively form in the second half, with Rutter smashing just over as they searched for a goal. At the other end, Karl Robinson forced Reade into a full length save.
The pressure finally paid off for Nantwich when they went 2-1 up on 67 minutes. Another exquisite pass from man-of-the-match Paul Santus freed Neil O'Brien down the left and his low cross was sweetly clipped past Dahl by Rutter.
Adam Newton drilled across the face of the goal as the home side attempted to make the game safe, but they then started to fade badly on the heavy pitch.
On 76 minutes, McMullen crossed from the right and Robinson craned his neck to head just inside Reade's post. Nantwich's misery was complete eight minutes from time when Townsend fired a rocket from 25 yards into the top corner of the net. nAlsager Town boss Greg Clowes is on the attack.
He admits that he always aims to build his side on a solid foundation and keep the goals-against column down to a minimum.
But he wants a top-six finish and back-to-back wins is the way to get it. Clowes will shrug aside his defensive tendencies and put everything into scoring goals galore.
He said: 'I have always been a cautious manager and I firstly want a good defensive foundation. Last season we conceded the least goals in the division, and the year before we did well on that side of things.
'But now we have nothing to lose. I consider anything less than a top-six finish a backwards step for this football club. I said to the lads that three wins on the trot will get us there. Let's go for it.'
Town's game at Atherton LR was postponed due to bad weather on Saturday - at 2.50pm.
Clowes explained: 'We arrived at 2pm and a monsoon hit. The pitch looked like a lake.
'To be fair to the referee he got both managers together and we agreed to give it 40 minutes. Amazingly, that did the trick, the rain stopped and the pitch was easily playable.
'But then with 10 minutes to kickoff he called it off. I couldn't believe it after he had kept us there and let the players get changed. But then I heard there was a referees' assessor in the stands, and that may have had something to do with it.'
Now attentions have been turned to this weekend's game at strugglers Formby. Defender Wayne Brother-ton will be used in attack alongside Paul Macari in a game that, on paper, looks like an easy three points for 11th-placed Alsager.
But Clowes said: 'There is some history between ourselves and Formby. We were always battling with them for promotion in the league below. They will raise their game for us, no doubt.
'We will not be complacent and I want all three points. If we are drawing, I am happy to leave it man for man at the back and go for the win. A point is no good to us any more.'