The second of three cup finals came around last Thursday night to add to what has been another great achievement for Atherton Collieries Football Club. Big names had been beaten to pave the way to the final with some great games witnessed by Collieries fans young and old.

The Road to the Tameside Stadium started way back in September and looked as follows:

Atherton Collieries 4-2 Cheadle Town (AET)

Ashton Athletic 0-3 Atherton Collieries

Abbey Hey 2-4 Atherton Collieries

Colne 0-2 Atherton Collieries

Runcorn Town 0-1 Atherton Collieries

Kick off had been delayed by 15 minutes (8:00PM), long queues stretched outside the ground as 1,012 people squeezed through the two turnstiles open.

FA Vase cup finalists and NWCFL Premier Division champions Glossop North End provided Atherton’s opposition for the day – a challenge, but one every single player in a black and white shirt relished.

The first controversy of many on the night was in the ref’s room at the pre match briefing when the Glossop management were miffed that a Geordie referee was taking charge of the game given they were playing a team from the North East at Wembley next week.

Glossop started the game well; they watched their first effort fly over the bar with five minutes on the clock. Samuel Hind had the ball played through to him from the Glossop midfield but he chipped well over the bar.

Pressure on the Collieries goal increased by the second with three efforts sailing wide by within in three minutes – one of those efforts resulted in a goal for the Hillmen.

The first of said three came on 12 minutes; Michael Bowler crossed the ball into the Colls box for it to land perfectly onto the head of Hind, who found himself with a free header which he put wide.

Seconds later, defender Gareth Carson did very well as he blocked a shot from the lively Hind to send the ball away for a Glossop corner. From that very corner, Glossop took the lead. The ball was swung deliciously into the box by Tom Bailey and seemingly went in off Danny Taberner’s gloves. However the Curzon tannoy man gave the goal to Glossop skipper Kelvin Lugsden. If correct a great spot!

Minute by minute, Atherton crept into the game as they grew in confidence with crisp and sharp passes along the fine pitch that the Tameside clubs boasts. With half an hour of the game gone, the Collieries created their first substantial chance of the game. Captain Brad Cooke played the ball down the centre of the field to Mark Battersby but his effort went straight into the hands of Glossop custodian Greg Hall.

Three minutes later, a mixture of fine defensive work, individual skill and routine goalkeeping prevented the Colls as they searched to level the game. Ben Hardcastle, from the edge of the Glossop area had his shot well blocked by the Glossop defence. The ball swirled up into the air and as it made its way back down, anyone could have won it. Mark Battersby was there to very cleverly bring the ball down with his right foot, turn and pass the ball onto Kristian Holt on the edge of the area (whilst surrounded by Glossop defenders), central to goal. Holt fired his shot weakly at Hall.

Colls were next on the attack on 35 minutes. From the centre circle, Mark Battersby played a pin-point pass along the surface to Mark Truffas on the left wing, He ran infield evading a couple of tacklers but his shot just went wide of the goal. A nice move from both Truffas and the Colls.

Unfortunately, the main talking point of the first half wasn’t Glossop’s good start to the game or their goal, it wasn’t Atherton’s attempts to find an equaliser through several fine forward moves – it was a red card.

A confrontation that initially involved Colls skipper Brad Cooke and Glossop’s Eddie Moran. Cooke fouled Moran in the middle of the pitch. Moran reacted badly as did his teammates and within seconds there was a full scale testosterone fuelled shoving session between the teams.

Glossop’s right back Michael Bowler who had run at breakneck speed to get involved ended up on the floor and seemingly out for the count. When order was restored referee Speedie, his two assistant’s and the fourth official had a pow wow and deemed Cooke to be the sole perpetrator of any wrong doing. He was shown a straight red card.

Confusion has since reined over what actually occurred. There have been social media comments that it was an uppercut, a head butt and even a handbag. Everyman and his dog have given their view of the events. Only the people involved will truly know the truth. Perhaps the ref should have consulted the aforementioned eagled eyed tannoy man.

The referee’s report will be final but inconclusive factually. Cooke made the walk of shame where he was met at the tunnel area by baying North End squad members. He was given ‘dogs abuse’ and there have been claims and counterclaims as to what occurred. Whatever the circumstances Cooke shouldn’t have had to run that particular gauntlet and the moveable tunnel should have been rolled out immediately to ensure he had an unobstructed walk to the relatively calming atmosphere of the dressing rooms. While the two dug outs had a disagreement Bowler rejoined the fray with a couple of cottons buds up his nose to the disapproval of the Colls support

At the time of the dismissal Colls were getting a foothold in the game and playing with the confidence they had shown throughout the campaign.

Half Time – Atherton Collieries 0-1 Glossop North End

Within minutes of the restart Glossop doubled their advantage and it was a hammer blow for Division One Champions. Mark Reed was adjudged to have been brought down just inside the box by Jake Kenny. A soft penalty many thought. Even Glossop gaffer Chris Wilcock was moved to say in his post match interview ‘that if he was the Colls manager he would have been aggrieved by the decision’. Ignoring the furore Moran comprehensively sent Taberner the wrong way.

The Colls had the proverbial mountain to climb – 2-0 down with ten men is never easy, but credit to the black and whites, they kept at it. On the hour mark, the ball fell to the feet of Mark Battersby who was located around thirty yards from goal, he took a touch before firing over the bar.

On 75 minutes he joined Cooke in the dressing rooms. He closed down the Glossop No 3 before making a forward’s tackle and the lad went down after clearing the ball. Was there any real contact? When the assistant wafted his flag for a foul this gave the ref no option but to give Battersby a second caution.

Atherton still looked to find a way back into the game, they passed the ball around midfield as they looked to advance towards the Glossop goal but the nine men were never likely to breakdown their opponent’s famously frugal defence. Glossop played within themselves to run down the clock.

Full Time – Atherton Collieries 0-2 Glossop North End

An eventful showpiece cup final and congratulations go to Glossop North End who are now on the cusp of a historic treble. The game didn’t really live up to the hype and from a Colls perspective. Perhaps indiscipline against wily opponents cost the side any real chance to upset the odds. A caveat to this was that the majority of the debateable decisions seemed to go the way of the Derbyshire outfit. They leave the ‘pop & crisp’ league in ruddy health and with a quality squad of players backed by a large parochial following they should be an asset to the Evo-Stik set up.

We go into the top flight with confidence having beaten seven out of eight teams we have played in that division over the course of the season. We may have lost a couple of cup finals over the last couple of weeks but it has still been a season in a generation. There is still one more opportunity for Michael Clegg’s boys to win another ‘pot’ when we meet Turton in the Bolton Hospital Cup on Tuesday at the Macron Stadium. The kick off is 7pm.

Then a well deserved rest!

A special thank you to our supporters, it was great to see so many of you down at the Tameside Stadium – it is appreciated by everyone at the Football Club and has been all season.

Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Jake Kenny, Nathan Battersby, Josh Messer, Gareth Carson (Wes Bancroft 70’), Matt Grimshaw, Ben Hardcastle, Bradley Cooke ©, Mark Battersby, Kristian Holt (Tom Shaw 86’) & Mark Truffas (Matty Boland 70’) Subs Not Used – Keith Wedge & Andy Heald

Match report by Emil Anderson

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