The upturn in form for the Collieries continued with a resonant victory over Mossley at the Kensite Stadium. Following the minor scalp of promotion chasing Colwyn Bay seven days prior, black and white spirits were beginning to lift, and the visit of Mossley presented the next opportunity for the Colls to continue climbing away from the lower reaches of the table.
The first opportunity of the game came within four minutes of play. Ben Hardcastle, buoyed by his Welsh wondergoal, was presented an opportunity from an identical position following a miskick by Jonathan Diba-Musangu in the Lilywhites goal. Unfortunately, this shot ended up slightly further away from the goal than was likely intended.
Diba-Musangu narrowly avoided trouble for a second time just five minutes later, receiving a caution for a trip on Jordan Cover just inches outside of his penalty area, a correct decision with narrow margins. The subsequent free-kick floated narrowly over.
Throughout the gritty first half, Mossley regularly asked questions of the Atherton defence with pressure of their own, however the Colls backline were more than equal to the task, preventing the Lilywhites from obtaining much more than half-chances. Mossley only managed a few efforts on goal throughout the first half, namely three speculative attempts moments before the interval.
The most notable effort of the first half fell to Jordan Cover. Following a smart block by Danny Lambert in the Colls penalty area, Vinny Bailey played a pinpoint through ball to Cover, who thundered a shot into the post whilst bearing down on goal. Another chance of note fell to adventurous center-half Danny Lafferty, who fired a low shot narrowly wide after a surprise burst forward.
The opening stanzas of the match were very much a game of attrition, with both sides testing the waters throughout a half of even possession. Colls’ confidence grew as the game carried on, and the black and whites certainly came into their own in the second period of play.
An inevitable breakthrough was made five minutes after the restart. A speculative long ball forward from Greg Hartley was headed across the 18 yard box by Mossley’s Declan Harvey, a miscued header intended for Daniel Hall. The onrushing Jordan Cover was on hand to snatch up the loose ball, burying the ball past Diba-Musangu.
With ten minutes remaining, Jordan Cover scored his second. Picking up a pass from Glenn Matthews, Cover played the ball to Ben Hardcastle, who returned the pass with a perfectly placed lobbed through pass. Diba-Musangu was quick to go down when rushing out, allowing Cover to round him with ease and comfortably pass the ball home.
Five minutes later, the hattrick came, capping off a fantastic performance by Jordan Cover and a faultless showing by his teammates. A Mossley attack was intercepted with ease by Josh Messer, who had the vision to play a great ball to Cover, beating the offside trap with half of the pitch shared between him and the keeper. Diba-Musangu showed reluctance to close down the imperious forward, allowing Jordan time to pick his spot and seal the victory for the Collieries.
Mossley’s heads never dropped, and even in injury time they continued to play for pride. Liam Ellis managed two shots to test Greg Hartley in the final minute, before a Harri Lovett floated cross found Jamie McLellan five minutes later, who volleyed home a consolation effort for the visitors.
It is now five games unbeaten for Michael Clegg’s black and whites. Next up, the Collieries travel to Glossop North End on Saturday 24th, in what will be another important clash in the lower half of the table. The Hillmen currently sit 12 points ahead of Atherton, with an extra two games played.
Colls: Greg Hartley, Jake Kenny, Daniel Lambert, Josh Messer, Chris Lynch, Danny Lafferty, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke ©, Jordan Cover (Adam Farrell ’85), Vinny Bailey (Matt Grimshaw ’65), Glenn Matthews (James Sigsworth ’85)
Mossley: Jonathan Diba-Musangu, Declan Evans, Keenan Quansah, Mohamud Ali, Jamie McLellan, Daniel Hall, Mason Duffy, Andy Keogh, Liam Ellis, Jack Tuohy, Michael Fish
Match Report by Rob Clarke
Photo courtesy of David Featherstone