STEETON suffered their heaviest defeat of the season on Saturday, going down to a 5-0 thrashing away from home at the hands of league leaders FC St Helens.

On a disappointing afternoon in heavy rain on Merseyside in the North West Counties Football League First Division North, the league’s top goalscorer Joe Barker helped himself to four goals as his side ran the visitors ragged.

And the tame Chevrons performance, which only mustered one shot on target throughout, left manager Roy Mason with plenty to ponder ahead of a busy October schedule.

The opening exchanges appeared to be setting up an entertaining game as both teams battled in the middle of the park, with a thunderous challenge from Jordan Townend firing up the visitors.

Despite the even start in difficult conditions, a superb James Catlow stop to prevent Barker after 15 minutes should have served as a warning but instead foreshadowed what laid in wait.

The opening goal came in controversial fashion.

Tom Scarborough handled the ball in front of the official and despite strong appeals from all in yellow and blue around, the winger continued his run down the left wing.

Sending the ball into the area, Barker showed great awareness to bend the ball inside the far post with a curling effort with the outside of the boot.

The frontman should have had a second almost immediately, but his free header sailed over the bar. He would not make the same mistake twice.

Moments after being booked for a late challenge on Mo Farhan Subhani, Brad Green made a marauding run down the right channel.

From there he delivered a pinpoint cross towards the penalty spot where Barker lost his marker to power a header past Catlow into the back of the net.

Under pressure and unable to get a foothold in the game, the afternoon was heading south in a hurry for Steeton.

And shortly before the half-time break, a third goal followed in the first of two minutes of injury time.

From a set-piece, the visitors failed to clear their lines and despite having three men around him, Barker managed to free himself to get the ball inside the far post to complete his hat-trick before the end of the first half.

Steeton started the second half brightly and nearly found a glimmer of hope through Jake Townsend, but the winger’s shot went straight at Joe Oldham on debut in the hosts' goal.

That was as good as things got on the afternoon for the visitors, and any faint chance of getting a foothold back in the game was extinguished with two St Helens goals in the space of three minutes.

The first came through a moment of individual brilliance from Barker.

Looking to get onto a ball over the top, the forward appeared to run out of pitch as he found himself on the byline.

Yet somehow, he managed to re-position himself to get the ball over Catlow for a ridiculously tight angle for his fourth goal of the day.

Coughing up possession cheaply from the restart, Steeton were punished.

Joseph Doyle, only introduced moments before from the bench, glanced up and fired a strike into the bottom corner from range to further rub salt into the ever-growing Chevvies wounds.

The Steeton bench responded by introducing all their available substitutes with an eye towards the hectic schedule that awaits in the new month.

Still struggling to create anything of note in the final third, the closest either side came to another goal was the hosts in the final minute of regulation time, but a tame effort was put wide by Barker.

Steeton's next game is at home to Pontefract Collieries in the opening round of the West Riding County Cup tomorrow night.