Ever since its creation, the Flatcap Derby has produced some superb games – not including of course, the 0-0 draw at the end of the 2013-14 season, but otherwise some crackers have been witnessed. Despite not being in the same division, Colls and L.R. met for the second Flatcap Derby of the season as Friday Night Football returned home.

Earlier in the season, the black and whites faced L.R. in the Hospital Cup – the Collieries ran out 3-0 winners on that Tuesday evening with the yellows still adjusting to life under their new joint managers, brothers Adam and Craig Jones.

Clegg opted for a more experienced side for this game – welcoming a huge number of players back into the squad that didn’t find themselves on the team sheet on Tuesday.

Straight from the referee’s Colls bossed possession but couldn’t make it count in the most important area, the final third. For example, a long ball was sent up to James Kirby on ten minutes, the forward latched onto the ball before he fired well over the bar.

Five minutes later and Ben Hardcastle provided a clear opportunity to his team mates in an attempt to take the lead. After doing the hard work, Hardcastle played the ball across the goal – only a tap from a Collieries boot was needed to send it clear. However, the L.R. defence got their first as they cleared the ball away.

Despite the earlier misses, the Colls took the lead on 26 minutes. Tight play on the edge of the area resulted in a clever ball being slipped through to Hardcastle. The winger simply controlled, advanced and slotted under Ashley Whittle. A fine move from the Collieries and a fine finish from Hardcastle.

With this goal, you would be forgiven to expect the floodgates to be opened. However, quite the opposite happened as L.R. found an equaliser. All men in black and white seemed to stop as they thought they’d conceded a foul, they hadn’t, John Green took full advantage of this as he lobbed Danny Taberner ten yards from the Colls’ area.

This didn’t stop the Colls from going into half time ahead though, for they retook the lead on 37 minutes. James Kirby nodded a deep centre into the path of an unmarked Matty Boland who akin to the opening goal fired under an unfortunate Whittle.

Half Time – Atherton Collieries 2-1 Atherton Laburnum Rovers

Boland had started the second half as he had finished the first as he scored his second of the game on 59 minutes. Boland rolled the ball into an empty net from 20 yards out, it was deadeye finish by the winger.

Two Mark Battersby efforts then came within quick succession but he missed the target narrowly on both occasions under pressure from LR defenders.

As the clock hit 74 minutes, the Collieries made it four. A free kick was swung into the area and Matt Grimshaw up from the back nestled his header in the top corner. Grimshaw’s first goal of the season. 

Within a minute Colls went nap. Mark Battersby pelted into the penalty area and unleashed a ferocious shot at goal. The ball cannoned off the post luckily straight into the path of substitute Jordan Cover who tapped in with ease.

The final Colls’ goal of the night came four minutes from time. Hardcastle got his second of the game after the ball was played through the centre for the him to run onto. He expertly curled the ball past the luckless Whittle.

Credit to L.R., they gave their all till the very last second of the game and with just seconds to go they pulled a goal back. A free kick was drilled into the area, Ben Hyde rose highest to head the ball past a despairing Taberner.

Full Time – Atherton Collieries 6-2 Atherton Laburnum Rovers

A fantastic performance by the Collieries in front of a fantastic crowd of 429 – thank you to all for their fantastic support!

Congratulations to Matt Boland also who won the ‘Flatcap’ Man of the Match Award (the first to win it for both Atherton teams) as well as the Match Sponsor’s (Bradshaw Bennett Insurance) Man of the Match award to cap what was a superb individual performance.

As of yet, we do not know who we will face in the next round – the draw is to be made on Monday.

Attendance – 429

Man of the Match – Matt Boland

Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Nathan Battersby, Keith Wedge, Josh Messer, Matt Grimshaw, Mark Ayres, Ben Hardcastle, Kris Holt, Mark Battersby (c), James Kirby and Matt Boland – Substitutes: Jordan Cover, Brad Cooke, Jimmy Moore, Sullay Ahmed and Jacob Jones.

Atherton Laburnum Rovers: Ashley Whittle, Daniel Davis, Adam White, Daniel Kerr, John Green, Trent Simm, Sean Nolan, Jordyn Fitton, Chirs Morris, Craig Dickinson and Tom Halligon – Substitutes: Ryan Carty, Nial Callagh, Ben Hyde, Tom McNarr and David Moore.

Match Report – Zach Pierce

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