A 65th minute Craig Gott penalty was the only thing to separate the sides at the Skuna Stadium, ending Atherton Collieries’ FA Trophy interest for the season as visitors Marske United finally ran out victors after three hours of football between the two second-placed Evo-Stik League Division One outfits.
This Monday night replay was prompted by Danny Lambert’s 93rd minute equaliser in Saturday’s epic 3-3 draw in the original tie in what was Marske’s first ever outing in the FA Trophy, having won the hotly-contested Northern League last season and being promoted to the Evo-Stik League Division One East, riding high in second position, just as Colls are in the equivalent West division. When bearing in mind the draw at the weekend along with the relative positions of the two sides, it was perhaps no surprise that this proved to be a tightly-contested encounter, with the First Qualifying Round draw earlier in the day revealing an away trip to Cleethorpes Town for the eventual victors.
Colls boss Micheal Clegg made a trio of the changes to the side that started on Saturday, with Josh Peet, Jordan Cover and Glenn Matthews all coming in to the opening eleven, with the aforementioned Peet finding his way in to the referee’s notebook within eleven minutes of the 8pm kick off for a foul close to halfway.
It was a first half that saw more action for the referee than the two goalkeepers, Ben Hardcastle having the first serious sight of the target on twenty six minutes when he shuffled in to enough space to have a shot from the edge of the box that was straight at Robert Dean in the Marske goal, while the visitors picked up two bookings in quick succession shortly before the break, first skipper Adam Wheatley after he flew through the back of Cover on halfway before Joshua Rowbotham faced a similar fate for a foul on Hardcastle on the touchline immediately in front of the dugouts.
Dale Latham made a terrific stop from close range on 57 minutes to keep the scores goalless, but there was little he could do about the eventual winner on 65 minutes, Gott sending him the wrong way to convert from 12 yards in to the bottom right hand corner after the visitors had been awarded a penalty – the third spot kick of these two outings – for a clumsy challenge on imposing front man Jamie Owens.
Cover went close for Colls on the 72nd minute when his flighted effort dropped just wide of the far post after he’d done well to outmuscle the otherwise impressive Andrew May, while an 83rd minute rocket from substitute Luke Giverin was acrobatically palmed over by Dean after Owens had earlier seen a goalbound shot deflected wide of the target at the other end.
With Giverin and Adam Farrell introduced from the bench to increase Colls’ attacking options, the visiting defence became ever more resolute as the black and whites became frustrated at their struggle to get in behind the defensive line, though that wasn’t presenting the odd opportunity from distance, home skipper Danny Lafferty taking advantage of a defence reluctant to close him down as he brought the ball forward, eventually flashing a 25 yard effort agonisingly wide of the post.
As it was, Collieries couldn’t find the breakthrough and even went close to conceding a second goal on the counter attack, Marske centre back Matthew Waters finding himself as the man furthest forward on the break but dragging his shot across Latham’s right hand post, though he would join his side in celebrating FA Trophy progress moments later as the final whistle blew.
A rare off night in front of goal for the Colls – indeed the first time this season that they have failed to trouble the scorers – and they will look to recover when they are back in action this Saturday (20th October) with a trip up the M6 to take on Kendal Town in the Evo-Stik League Division One West before a rare fortnight’s break – albeit enforced by tonight’s FA Trophy exit – ahead of welcoming Mossley to the Skuna Stadium on Saturday 3rd November (3pm kick off).
Atherton Collieries: Dale Latham, Glenn Matthews (Adam Farrell 82’), Gareth Peet, Danny Lambert (Luke Giverin 73’), Danny Lafferty (c), Josh Messer, Ben Hardcastle, Josh Peet (James Sigsworth (63’), Jordan Cover, Vinny Bailey, Jordan Conway. Substitutes (not used): Callum Spooner, Matt Grimshaw.
Man of the match: Ben Conway
Match report: Matt Lawton