Atherton Collieries continued their pre-season campaign when they welcomed Evo-Stik Division One South side Northwich Victoria to the Kensite Stadium. The match was a statisticians nightmare as rolling substitutions were in place and all players were giving a good run out against strong opposition.
With a bright orange football, that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a beach in Benidorm, the match took a while to settle. Passes for both sides were wayward and no players were allowed time on the ball.
Northwich Victoria’s striker Yao Gyimah had a couple of half attempts on goal in the opening ten minutes but they were never going to cause much threat. The first real opening of the match came on 18 minutes when Ben Hardcastle found himself through one-on-one with Northwich goalkeeper Mason Springthorpe but the latter came out on top after the winger let rip from 20 yards out.
On 25 minutes, Jordan Cover raced forward and tried to catch Springthorpe off his line with a dipping effort. The goalkeeper back-peddled well and was able to tip the ball over the crossbar onto the roof of the net. The resulting corner was attacked by numbers but the danger was dealt with as the ball was scrambled away.
Ten minutes later and Alex Byrne came close to opening the scoring for Vics when he volleyed just wide of the right hand post following an inch perfect cross field ball from Michael Brewster.
Five minutes before the interval, defender Chris Pauley found himself in an advanced position. He won the ball – after careless play at the back from the visitors – and was able to set Jordan Cover through on goal. Springthorpe managed to block the first shot before he then also managed to get a hand to the follow up; again the resulting corner was cleared off the line.
It was fair to say that Colls had been the more likely to score during the match but just before the half time whistle, Vics broke the deadlock. Yao Gyimah picked the ball up on the edge of the area and swivelled on the spot, half volleying towards goal in the process. A huge deflection wrong footed Danny Taberner in the Collieries net and the ball landed in the opposite corner.
There were a number of changes for both sides at half time as per the usual pre-season friendly traditions.
Within a minute of the restart Brad Cooke went close to equalising. A decent ball down the right hand side was latched on to by the midfielder who cut inside and then fired the ball marginally past the left hand post. Northwich went straight down the other end and almost doubled their lead but their effort flew out for a goal kick.
Ben Hardcastle also went close before the away side doubled their advantage on 65 minutes. Ben Halfacre set Ashley Stott down the left hand side and he fired the ball towards goal. Adam Reid parried the ball to the feet of Jordache Walters who passed the ball into an empty net at the far post.
Lewis Coleman was introduced on the right hand side for Collieries and his impact was almost immediate when he was involved in a goal after 71 minutes. Jake Kenny crossed the ball along the floor to Coleman who in turn flicked the ball on to Kristian Holt. The midfielder then turned the ball towards goal and it found the bottom right hand corner after a deflection.
Northwich came close to restoring their two goal advantage with ten minutes remaining but centre half Matt Grimshaw cleared the ball off the line. That was the final opportunity of the match and Vics recorded a 2-1 win.
It was a good run out for both teams.
Atherton Collieries: (First Half) – Danny Taberner, Lukasz Malkowski, Chris Pauley, Josh Messer, Mark Ayres, Danny Lafferty, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke, Jordan Cover, Dave Sherlock, Justin Pickering
Atherton Collieries: (Second Half) – Adam Reid, Jake Kenny, Josh Messer, Danny Lafferty, Mark Ayres, Vinny Bailey, Kristian Holt, Brad Cooke, Justin Pickering, Ben Hardcastle, Jordan Cover
Referee – Darren Handley
Attendance – 116
Match report by Joseph Gibbons