It was a return to Bolton Hospital Cup action for Michael Clegg’s boys after a eight month hiatus. The opening rounds had been played before the start of the league campaign and victories over Tempest United and Atherton LR set up a semi final clash against go ahead West Lancashire League outfit Ladybridge.
The game started evenly with both teams getting shots away that didn’t trouble the goalkeepers unduly. Ladybridge were playing some nice football in the centre of the park led by their quality number 8 but in all honesty the narrowness of the paddock made the game condensed and there certainly looked to be more than 22 players on the pitch.
On the half hour mark, Ladybridge were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Colls box. Guest Colls left back Chris Pauley brought down the attacker unquestionably, referee Scholes gave himself some thinking time and awarded the defender a yellow card much to the indignation of the Bridge collective.
When the hoo-ha settled down the set piece came to nothing and within seconds Colls had struck. Mark Truffas played a through ball which Jordan Cover dummied cleverly enabling the impressive teenager Jonathan Hurst to lob the keeper for only his second Colls goal.
The tempo was then cranked up a notch and Truffas doubled the advantage with one of his specials. He took a pinpoint outside of the boot Hurst pass in his stride before caressing the ball in the top corner from 20 yards out.
It was soon 3-0.
Justin Pickering intercepted a defensive square ball and immediately passed to Cover who finished clinically when one on one with the keeper. The half time scoreline was harsh on Ladybridge but Colls had dominated the proceedings totally after taking the lead.
Colls controlled the second period with their extra fitness the key. On 55 minutes Cover got his second goal. Pauley took a quick throw which caught the defence napping and Cover tucked away with ease.
Youngsters Sulay Ahmed and Dominic Butler were given valuable playing time while it was nice to see Gareth Peet given minutes following his recent injury.
To their credit Ladybridge never gave up and their best attempt came with 20 minutes remaining. However, Adam Reid had remained alert and he expertly tipped a goal bound effort around the post. Colls had numerous other chances which came to nothing.
An ultimately convincing win against competitive opposition which sets up a Bolton Hospital Cup Final against Prestwich Heys on Monday 9th May at the Macron Stadium. Ko 7.30pm.
A day later it’s Colne in the final of the Men United Cup at Fleetwood Town FC. An interesting conundrum for the management but you are allowed 30 players in the Hospital Cup of which 29 have played in the three previous rounds.
The indications are that there are going to be virtually two different starting lines up in the games.
Atherton Collieries: Adam Reid, Jake Kenny, Chris Pauley, Dave Sherlock (Sulay 46 mins), Mark Ayres, Callum Jones, Justin Pickering (Gareth Peet 63 mins), Ben Hardcastle (56 mins), Jordan Cover
Match report by Emil Anderson