Adam Farrell was on the scoresheet as Colls’ final home game of the pre-season campaign brought a 1-1 draw with higher division Witton Albion in a keenly fought Alder Street encounter.
Having seen off neighbours Daisy Hill 11-0 in their last outing, Colls were inevitably likely to find a much sterner test against a Witton Albion who finished in seventh position in last season’s Evo-Stik League Premier Division, and so it turned out in a quite often frenetic encounter with no quarter asked nor given.
Tom Bentham forced an early save out of Witton goalkeeper Greg Hall with a low strike from the edge of the box before the visitors twice went close, first Danny McKenna firing over from the edge of the box before Will Jones drifted a shot just wide of the target when trying to catch Greg Hartley off his line.
Hall was called upon to make a terrific save on twenty seven minutes, brushing Ben Conway’s rasping effort over the crossbar with a quality of save that was matched only minutes later by Hartley at the other end, stretching low to his left hand post to palm Jones’ header around the post.
Colls went in front on forty minutes when Ben Hardcastle curled in a deliciously inviting cross from the right hand side that Adam Farrell expertly headed in to the bottom corner, while there was still time for Hall to make another superb save, tipping over a Bentham effort that was heading straight for the top corner.
Hartley did well to flick Jones’ sixty fourth minute deflected strike over the crossbar but the scores were level with twenty minutes remaining when a right wing corner found visiting substitute River Humphreys who thumped home a ten yard effort.
Farrell came agonisingly close to a Colls winner on eighty one minutes when Hardcastle turned beautifully on halfway and threaded a ball through for the Colls front man who dinked the ball inches wide of the far post.
There was still time for something of a needless stoppage time melee, Adam Yates fouling Colls left back Gareth Peet close to the touchline, with the Witton man then going in for what is known colloquially as ‘a bit of afters’, but tempers soon simmered with the final whistle following shortly afterwards, allowing both sides to reflect on what was most certainly a worthwhile workout.
The pre-season campaign finally reaches a conclusion this Saturday (11th August) when Colls travel across the Pennines to take on Evo-Stik League Division One East side Pontefract Collieries for the inaugural ‘Colliery Cup’ in a 2pm kick off. Micheal Clegg’s side open their Evo-Stik League Division One West campaign with a trip to Glossop North End the following Saturday (18th August, 3pm), quickly followed by a first home league game of the season when Colwyn Bay visit Alder Street on Monday 20th August (7.45pm).
Atherton Collieries: Greg Hartley, Glenn Matthews, Gareth Peet, Danny Lambert, Danny Lafferty, Ian Rowlands, Ben Hardcastle, Vinny Bailey, Tom Bentham, Ben Conway, Adam Farrell. Substitutes (all used): Trialist, Trialist, Josh Peet
Goal(s): Adam Farrell (40’)
Match report: Matt Lawton
Photograph: Ian Monk