Three goals in four minutes helped Colls march in to the semi finals of the Lancashire FA Trophy, but it wasn’t without an almighty scare on a freezing night at Ashton Athletic as the visitors, managed for the evening by Matt Grimshaw, fought back from being 2-0 down early in the second half.
The hosts, eighth in North West Counties Premier and fielding a trio of ex-Colls players Aaron Cringle, Liam Wood and Marcus Cusani, dominated the early proceedings and deservedly went in front when Cusani’s shot from distance flew past Greg Hartley.
Having failed to create anything of note in the previous 35 minutes, Colls twice went close in quick succession as first Michael Brewster’s half volley drew a smart save from Martin Pearson in the home goal before Danny Lambert headed agonisingly wide of the target. Not long later and Ben Conway was next to be denied by Pearson before Brewster arrived a strike narrowly over the crossbar.
It took only four minutes of the second half for the hosts to double their lead almost directly from a corner, giving no sign of the carnage to follow.
On 56 minutes, Colls halved the deficit with a goal from nowhere, Tom Bentham taking advantage of a loose defensive pass and coolly slotting in to the corner.
If the first goal was against the run of play, then the tide had certainly turned only 60 seconds later when Michael Brewster crossed for an O’Brien tap in.
Remarkably, Colls went 3-2 in front only four minutes after being 2-0 down, O’Brien returning the favour of the previous goal to cross for a simple finish from Brewster.
A fourth goal followed on 64 minutes when, in remarkably O’Brien crossed from the right hand side to lay it on a plate for Lambert.
As the freezing fog descended on to an already frosty pitch, Colls went 5-2 in front on 79 minutes, Ben Conway breaking clear of the defence and cleverly drawing the goalkeeper and last defender to play in O’Brien to roll in to an empty net.
Colls are in league action this Saturday (7th December) when Hyde United are the visitors to the Skuna Stadium for a 3pm kick off.
Atherton Collieries: Greg Hartley, Dave Sherlock, Gareth Peet, Danny Lambert, Danny Lafferty © (Vinny Bailey 69’), Clive Smith, Ben Conway, John Welsh, Tom Bentham, Michael Brewster (Steve Kipre 85’), Dan O’Brien
Goals: Tom Bentham (56’), Danny O’Brien (57’, 79’), Michael Brewster (59’), Danny Lambert (64’)
Match Report: Matt Lawton
Photograph: David Featherstone (gallery HERE)