If Tuesday’s game at Squires Gate was the first cold fixture of the winter the Friday evening match up with Abbey Hey was the first game of the campaign played in wet conditions. The rain was incessant but it did not deter the ever increasing Colls faithful who made up a generous part of the gathering.
Colls welcomed back Jake Kenny in his regular right back role with skipper Mark Battersby also returning the starting eleven. The hosts won last season’s fixture with an infamously debatable injury time goal and they started the game tucked in seventh place in the Hallmark Security Premier Division with some recent good victories in the locker.
It was the weekend of Guy Fawkes celebrations and there were certainly fireworks in the opening exchanges. Colls forced an early corner and following a bit of penalty box pinball Danny Lafferty lashed home. The lead lasted just a couple of minutes though. Nico Collins cut in from the flank and curled the ball past Adam Reid, a fine finish. Things then simmered down but Colls were always on the front foot and in the half hour mark a Mark Truffas special narrowly missed the top right corner of the net. Colls retook the lead in the very next attack, Truffas floated a beaut of a cross onto Battersby’s forehead who made no mistake from close range.
Both players and spectators alike were glad to get out of the rain at half time for refreshments of orange cordial and Boddingtons Bitter respectively and the majority of the crowd were still in the cosy clubhouse when Jake Kenny rattled the crossbar. Matty Grimshaw’s had an effort cleared off the line and Darryl Mason saw his shot tipped over as Colls continued to hold sway. The hosts almost scored an own goal from a corner and a Ben Hardcastle attempt went over after he made a good run down the right. Colls were then nearly made to pay for missed chances as Hey broke quickly but fortunately the half decent shot just missed the target. With minutes remaining there was some controversy. The pacy Mason ran onto a through ball and was unceremoniously upended by his marker Sven Gibson on the edge of the box. I think even the defender expected an early bath but referee Barlow brandished a yellow to the bemusement of one and all. The ensuing free kick came to nothing and Michael Clegg’s side saw out the rest of the game for a deserved victory. Top spot was regained even though it could be for a solitary day.
A proper game of association football given the inclement weather conditions played in a good spirit and handled on the whole sensibly by the match officials. As usual the Abbey Hay midden was in wonderful condition.
Final mention goes to the travelling fans who were rightly given an ovation by the players at the end of the game.
Match report by Emil Anderson
Photo by David Featherstone