Chants of ‘We’re all going to Brighouse’ still ring around the ears of many a Colls fan to this day. A coach load of Athertonians descended on the small Yorkshire town and certainly pushed the Evo-Stik side to their limits in an FA Cup spectacular, ultimately undone in a bank holiday replay.

Fast forward two years and the two sides meet again, this time as equals. Both finding themselves at the wrong end of the First Division North table, a classic six-pointer scrappy affair was expected.

Following Monday night’s draw against Bamber Bridge, Clegg made a few changes to the side. Danny Lambert, Ben Hardcastle, Glenn Mathews and Sebastian Julien came into the side, with the latter make his Collieries debut.

As the black and whites adjusted to the surface at the Yorkshire Payments Stadium, Brighouse made the stronger start. Defender Jamie Forbes was called upon on to provide goal-line heroics on seven minutes. Rhys Jenkinson curled a superb lob from the edge of the area in an effort that was destined for the back of the net. Forbes, however, backtracked superbly and headed the ball over the bar in a brilliant piece of individual defending.

In what was a scrappy period of the game, Forbes was again central to the action at the other end of the field. On 23 minutes, the Colls were rewarded with a free kick on halfway. The defender, inside the area, leapt up and directed a header towards goal. Brighouse’s Christopher Butt was equal to this however as he collected the ball with ease. Forbes had a superb half.

Atherton grew into the game as the half went on, Ben Hardcastle could only watch as his low drive bounced back against the post. Not to worry though as 60 seconds later, on 28 minutes, Clegg’s men took the lead. Defender Christopher Lynch headed into the top right hand corner at the far post after Forbes flicked onto him from a corner. A fine header from a strong set-piece move.

Eight minutes later and the Colls doubled their advantage. Pinball in the Town area saw the ball land straight at the feet of Hardcastle. The winger took no hesitation as he fired the ball straight into the back of the net. Indeed, a happy stomping ground for Hardcastle with this being his second goal in as many appearances.

It could have been three with a minute to go until the interval. Glenn Matthews made sure Butt was awake with a low and hard drive. The keeper did well to ensure his side went into the break with only a two goal deficit.

The second half saw the Collieries carry over their momentum from the first as they controlled throughout. Despite one or two efforts, Town failed to muster any real substantial danger on goal.

Half-chances came and went for both Hardcastle and Howard but the real highlight of the half came on 74 minutes. Substitute Darrhyl Mason played a direct ball across to Hardcastle on the right side. The winger laid off team-mate Howard who, inside the area, turned and passed back to Ryan Salmon. The forward forced Butt into a fine save. Superb football from Clegg’s men, as many in the ground remarked, just like watching Brazil!

Four minutes later and Atherton had their third. Substitute Jordan Cover used that now infamous pace to latch onto a forward ball, as he took the ball wide the forward played back to Hardcastle. With a goal already to his name the winger passed onto Lambert who curled a superb effort into the back of the net.

With that, the three points were in the bag. Brighouse did come close as they hit the post with a cross-come-shot but the win was never in doubt for Clegg’s men. What a win it was too, three goals, a clean sheet and a convincingly superb performance in what was a must win game.

Attention now readily turns to tomorrow night, Skelmersdale United the visitors to the Kensite Stadium.

Brighouse Town: Christopher Butt, Ishmael Dawson, Lewis Riley, Connor Griffin, Harley Wiley, Tery Lees, Thomas Hamy, Iwan Heeley (C), Gabriel Johnson, Aidan Kirby, Rhys Jenkinson – Substitutes: Jaydon Armstrong, Robert Martin, Aaron Martin, Marcus Day, Daniel Grimshaw. 

Atherton Collieries: Adam Reid, Chris Lynch, Gaz Peet, Daniel Lambert, Daniel Lafferty (C), Jamie Forbes, Ben Hardcastle, Sebastian Julien, Ryan Salmon, Iain Howard, Glenn Matthews – Substitutes: Jordan Cover, Rob Sadler, Daryhll Mason, Jake Kenny, Jack Stewart. 

Match Report: Zach Pierce 

Photo: Ian Monk

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