Scrappy was the word that came to mind when describing Saturday’s 1-0 win againstBarnton in the semi-final of the Men United Cup. Scrappy can again be used to describe the 0-0 draw against Abbey Hey that unfolded at Alder House yesterday.
The weather the night before had everyone on the edge of the seats as all pondered whether or not the game would actually be on. The same can be said hours before the game when, after a top up, the pitch was inspected by the referee. Fair play to the referee, he was keen to play the game and did so.
Clegg and his management team were forced into scratching their heads before the game with no less than eight first team regulars missing. Dave Sherlock came in for the injured Kris Holt, Matt Grimshaw was rested so swapped with Callum Jones, Brad Cooke was also injured so was replaced by Sullay Ahmed, Justin Pickering came into the side in midfield, James Kirby started in place of Jordan Cover and John Hurst came back into the side as Mark Truffas was also rested.
The Collieries started the game well as they hit the woodwork with only six minutes on the clock. The ball was played across to Kirby in the packed Abbey Hey box. The robust striker simply fired his effort at goal. Kirby could only watch as his effort bounced back off the post.
On 11 minutes, the Reds found themselves with a couple of chances, good chances too. The first came when John Hardy fired wide of the goal and the second when Sam Hind also misplaced his shot wide, across goal this time, after being through on goal.
The pitch was claggy, given the weather it was hardly likely to be anything else. This slowed the game down as the players had to control themselves as well as the ball, many slipped too. Although the pitch was clearly favoured by Sullay who had a superb game and used it to his advantage as he made a number of superb sliding tackles.
Wayward finishing was clearly the order of the day; this was evident on 30 minutes. Hurst picked up the ball in the shallow end of Hey’s half and advanced down the wing. The Reds’ defence forced the young winger into a corner, but desperate to avoid loss of possession Hurst whipped the ball back to Justin Pickering on the edge of the danger zone. The former Abbey Hey man volleyed way over the bar, however.
Hey came closest to taking the advantage on 36 minutes. The ball was played up and across to Hind in the Colls’ area as it sailed above Josh Messer’s head. Hind collected and brought down to his feet before he fired across goal.
Colls had a major let off just before the break when a clear penalty was awarded to Abbey Hey only for it to be chalked off for offside.
Half Time – Atherton Collieries 0-0 Abbey Hey
Second half was a case of more of the same as both sides chipped away at each other in an attempt to take the lead. On 52 minutes Atherton missed a key chance. The ball was played over by Hurst for Sullay to jump onto and tap into the back of the net. Unfortunately Sullay’s run was delayed and he couldn’t reach the ball in time.
Two minutes later, a bizarre piece of football saw Abbey Hey almost take the lead. The ball was scooped towards the Colls goal, destined to go over. However, as everyone turned away getting ready for the goal kick, the ball bounced off the top of the bar, luckily so.
Another scuffed effort saw the game look ever more likely to be a 0-0 draw on 58 minutes. Ben Hardcastle advanced down the right wing and cut inside of the box. With nowhere to go, the lively winger knocked the ball back to Pickering on the edge of the area. Pickering however scuffed the ball over the bar.
With fifteen minutes to go, Clegg made a few changes – one introduced Jordan Cover to the game. In his first substantial contribution Cover advanced down the left wing and passed the ball across to Kirby. However, thanks to pressure from the Abbey Hey defence striker read the ball wrong and could only watch as it tickled behind him.
The Collieries had a safe penalty shout in this final period of the game with Kirby clearly fouled in the area, to the opinion of the Colls faithful. The referee disagreed and turned away all claims.
Adam Reid was forced into a number of good saves towards the end of the game,Most notably saving from a Hey free kick. The ball came over with Reid on one side of the goal, a Hey headed effort saw Reid dive across and palm the ball away. A fine save.
Full Time – Atherton Collieries 0-0 Abbey Hey
Not a poor performance, a relatively good one considering the number of regulars out. That factor mixed in with the conditions and the fact that Abbey Hey are a fine side with a number of good players concludes that this was a point gained, rather than two dropped.
Atherton Collieries: Adam Reid, Jake Kenny (Dom Butler), Josh Messer, Dave Sherlock, Mark Ayres, Callum Jones, Justin Pickering (Jordan Cover), Sulay Ahmed, James Kirby, Ben Hardcastle, John Hurst (Mark Truffas) – Substitutions: Jordan Cover, Kyle Haslam, Andy Heald, Dom Butler, Mark Truffas
MoM – Adam Reid
Match report by Zach Pierce
Photo by AJ Photography