The only previous trip to the edge of Yorkshire saw a 2-0 defeat followed by a unseemly scuffle between two key club personnel. Could this visit be any worse?
Given the fact that there were two finals in two days coming up and bearing in mind the number of games played of late Colls shuffled their pack again. The game started evenly but as in last Thursday’s match the black n whites conceded just after the 10 minute mark.
The goal had a element of luck. Town’s giant centre forward Matthew Simpson miscontrolled a ball only for it to land at the feet of Dalton Hutchinson who finished unerringly. Colls tried to create something despite being well off their best and a Town defender took the ball off James Kirby’s boot as he was about to let fly.
Kirby then flicked on but Jonathan Hurst’s shot went well over.
With seven minutes of the half remaining the hosts doubled their lead. The ball broke down in the Colls half and Mark Threlfall curled one in from 20 yards.
Krissy Holt had an early second half chance to reduce the deficit but he flicked a Dave Sherlock freekick wide. Colls somehow survived a goalmouth melee to end all melee’s with the ball cleared off the line at least thrice. However, Town weren’t going to denied and an aimless looking 35 yard Harry Thompson freekick punt went straight into the net with Colls rookie keeper Kyle Haslam seemingly buffeted off the ball.
Moments later Haslam was forced to pick the ball out of the net again when Threlfall grabbed his second. A loud mouthed Barlick speccy was enjoying the Colls discomfort and his shout of ‘how the hell are you third in the league’ was cutting but at the time there was no adequate retort.
The dangerous Simpson then hit the bar when one on one with Haslam and he should have scored. In the 80th minute Town went nap as Thompson finished a fine move from close range. James Kirby smacked in a 25 yard consolation late on and there was time for him to miss an easier chance. It was a blessed relief when referee Ince blew the final whistle.
It was easily the worst display in the last two seasons but it was only 90 minutes of football. In our first season back in the top flight since 2009 we have finished in our highest ever position since we entered the non league pyramid in 1971. Form has dipped since the Colne draw but the lads have a couple of opportunities to finish off the season on a high in the upcoming cup finals.
Third in the NWCFL Premier Division and in two cup finals. We have never had it so good!
Atherton Collieries: Kyle Haslam, Jake Kenny, Andy Heald, Ahmed Sullay, Josh Messer, Mark Ayres (Mark Truffas), Kris Holt, Dave Sherlock, James Kirby, Jonathan Hurst (Brad Cooke), Justin Pickering (Ben Hardcastle) – Substitutions: Mark Truffas, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke, Gareth Peet, Adam Reid
Match report by Emil Anderson
Photo by Lee Stewart