The rare time in which Atherton Collieries are involved in a 0-0 draw, they seem to be the most action packed 0-0’s the world of Football has ever seen – this was the case on Saturday as the Colls made the journey to AFC Liverpool.

Goalless games aren’t common for Cleg’s side with just one registered all season, ‘that’ 0-0 draw away at Ashton Athletic. The same can be said for the Reds, who haven’t failed to score in a single game this season.

The first noticeable effort of the game came on five minutes. The ball was played across to Ben Hardcastle on the right wing. The midfielder was boxed in around the corner flag area; this didn’t deter him as he knocked the ball back to the advanced Nathan Battersby. The midfielder-turned-right-back whipped the ball into the box for both namesake Mark Battersby and Jordan Cover to miss.

Two minutes later, Brad Cooke – who has been in a fine run of form recently – found himself just left to the centre of the goal on the edge of the area however he curled his effort over the bar.

Liverpool did well to disrupt Colls’ play as they surrounded the black and whites at every single opportunity – they limited options which resulted in lost possession.

Nevertheless, on 13 minutes Atherton found themselves with a free kick on the right side of the Red’s box. Mark Truffas curled the ball into the box, the set piece sailed over everyone in the centre of the area and Mark Ayres collected on the left side of the box. Unfortunately, the defender’s options were limited as Joshua O’Connell rushed out to make the acute angle even more acute. The keeper blocked well.

Danny Taberner was called into action on 15 minutes. The long ball was played up for Liverpool’s Mark Kirby to head at goal. Taberner did well to jump and tip the ball over the bar.

Sherlock instigated an Atherton attack on 18 minutes as he played the ball long from midfield for forward Jordan Cover to latch onto. However, after a poorly executed shot the ball flew well over the bar.

A minute later, Hardcastle, surrounded by AFC Liverpool defenders, somehow managed to twist and turn his way into the box. The tricky winger drilled the ball across goal for Red’s Captain Jonathan Swatton to knock behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, Ayres was at the centre of the action once again as he hit the woodwork with a far post header.

Seconds later, Callum Jones lost possession to AFC Liverpool’s Emini Adegbenro in the middle of the park. The lively winger ran through clear on goal and released his shot. However, Taberner was alert and saved well.

Truffas scuffed his shot at goal when M. Battersby presented the opportunity to him on 28 minutes.

AFC Liverpool defended well and the pitch was a tad bobbly. However, despite this the Collieries were playing well.

On 34 minutes, defender Callum Jones was given a straight red. Why? Nobody was quite sure what happened as they didn’t see it, rumours of a reaction from Jones – but nobody can say for sure what happened, apart from the lad himself of course. After the game Callum protested his innocence. The ref’s report will be interesting. The lack of furore from the Liverpool collective perhaps told a tale. This sparked a change in formation for Colls – off came Mark Truffas and on came Matt Grimshaw.

It certainly wasn’t the best first half Collieries display of the campaign. The lads seemed a little lack lustre.

AFC Liverpool 0-0 Atherton Collieries

Second half, the Collieries were much better despite being the man shy.

On 54 minutes, Hardcastle was forced into a quick shot which flew well over the bar. This came after the ball was played up to him and the winger cut inside the box.

End to end is an understatement as seconds later, M. Kirby headed just wide of the post after the cross came over on the right side.

Hardcastle was at it again on 58 minutes as he twisted and turned into the Red’s area, he approached from his right side and, with a clear sight at goal, he scooped the ball just over the bar. A good opportunity for the Colls.

A couple of half chances for the two sides just increased the tension for both sets of supporters, those who sat down were on the edge of their seats.

Counter-attacking football at its finest was witnessed on 77 minutes. From a Liverpool corner the ball was played up to substitute James Kirby who was located practically on the centre circle. The powerful forward chested the ball down to his feet before passing to the increasingly advanced Hardcastle. The winger carried the ball down the right wing before he looked up and noticed M. Battersby’s forward run on the left side and played the ball up to him. The skipper ran into the area but drilled his effort just shy of the right post. A fantastic Colls move.

Three minutes later and Taberner was called upon once again. The Red’s Nathan Platts drilled a cross into the danger zone from the right side. This though turned into a cross-come-shot and Taberner was forced to tip over to avoid a bizarre goal taking place.

With five minutes to go, Atherton had two fine chances to nick the game. The first came from a corner, and this time Ayres was not involved, it was his defending partner Grimshaw who volleyed inches over the bar from the far left corner of the box, a good opportunity. Seconds later and Josh Messer crossed the ball into the area towards M. Battersby on the penalty area, his deft touch just lacked a runner in the six yard box to tap in.

From that point, you could argue that the Collieries would be devastated not to take all three points. However, a point seemed like three following the events in the final few minutes of the game.

Danny Taberner was shown a straight red card after bringing down Joshua Purcell in a one on one situation, it was a clear foul and everyone knew the outcome as soon as it was committed, a penalty followed by a straight red card. This was the second time referee Brown has sent Taberner for an early bath; he was in charge of the Lancashire Cup tie against Radcliffe Borough last season. Dave Sherlock looked nerveless and he took an age changing into the goalie kit. You could hear a pin drop as Paul Speed stepped up but couldn’t convert as ‘The Cat’ Sherlock did unbelievably well to get down to his right side and save the penalty, much to the amazement of the AFC Liverpool supporters and delight of the Atherton contingent.

So, the late goal scoring hero from the game away at Congelton couple a weeks ago saved the day yet again, literally.

Full Time – AFC Liverpool 0-0 Atherton Collieries

If Carlsberg did 0-0 draws this was the one. Throughout the full 90 minutes there were never a dull moment.

Michael Clegg’s lads were never at their best but to play for a hour with ten men is not easy. Credit to the AFC Liverpool side though, they showed real desire for the whole of game. Given that golden opportunity to take all the points in the last seconds they must surely be disappointed.

Once again thanks to the excellent travelling support. Much appreciated!!

Teams – Coming Soon

Report by Zach Pierce

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