It was cup action again as Colls visited NWCFL Premier Division opponents Ashton Athletic in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy
The first half was played out in a swirling wind which seemed to give Colls problems with their passing. Admittedly they edged possession but seemed a little lack lustre. Maybe a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show following Saturday’s six goal salvo. Athletic took the lead in the 36th minute. Colls goalscoring legend Paul Atherton hit a fine strike from just inside the penalty box which keeper Danny Taberner did well to turn the ball onto the post and back into the box. Jamie Harrison showed good technique to carress the rebound into the onion bag.
The interval teamtalk from Messrs Clegg, Jones and Campbell was the tonic Colls needed and they were much improved although they did survive a scare when a close range header was smashed against the woodwork. The Athletic custodian Jay Foulds somehow pushed a raping Kristian Holt drive onto his own bar and out to safety. An early save of the season contender.
An equaliser arrived on 56 minutes. Westley Bancroft drove in a fierce freekick from the right flank and Matty Grimshaw bundled the ball home from close range. The jury is still out on what actual part of his body applied the decisive finish.
Foulds then superbly flicked a Mark Ayres header over the bar as Colls tightened their grip on the game. Mark Battersby made it 2-1 in the 66th minute with an unerring shot from the edge of the box and Holt finished off a fine team move to put Colls into the draw for the next round.
Special mention should go to George Sunter and Jack Iley from the Under18s side who made their debuts in the second half.
By a strange quirk of fate the two clubs met in the same round of the competition at the same venue last season. Athletic led 1-0 at the break and yes you’ve guessed it Colls won the game 3-1. Spooky!
Match report by Emil Anderson
Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Jake Kenny, Rob Swanton, Nathan Battersby, Matt Grimshaw, Mark Ayres, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke, Mark Battersby, Westley Bancroft, Matty Boland Substitutes: Gareth Carson, Mark Truffas, Kris Holt, George Sunter, Jack Iley