Atherton Collieries returned to Lancashire Cup action after taking the decision not to enter the competition last campaign in an attempt to concentrate fully on the league and FA Vase. It was a decision that paid dividends for Michael Clegg’s side but the management team were happy to be back in the mix this time around.
A bye was received in the First Round of the competition putting Colls straight in the hat for the Second Round draw at the Lancashire FA’s headquarters in Leyland. It was January 2005 when Atherton Collieries and Bamber Bridge were last drawn against each other in the county cup, with the Irongate side coming out 3-2 victors at their home.
The Evo-Stik Division 1 North table toppers had secured their place in this round by securing an eye-catching 7-0 victory over Southport and obviously came into this fixture high on confidence. It was the second visit of Brig to The Kensite Stadium this season with a 1-1 draw the result in an earlier league game; this match was never as close as the Preston based side coasted into the Third Round.
Michael Clegg named a changed line-up to Saturday’s defeat at South Shields. Johnny Gorman returned to the team following a successful loan spell at Northwich Victoria, while there was also a welcome return for Jake Kenny at right back who had been out for injury since the opening day of the season. Notable absentees were Iain Howard, Brad Cooke, Darrhyl Mason, Gareth Peet while Ben Hardcastle and Chris Lynch were named on the bench.
The first half provided the most amount of entertainment for the 142 in attendance and the travelling supporters were treated to an opening goal from their side on 10 minutes. A quick paced counter down the right hand side saw a cross zip into James Boyd who controlled and hit the ball past Adam Reid in the Collieries goal.
Colls began to try and get a foothold in the game but found themselves two goals behind on 24 minutes. Jamie Forbes was dispossessed in the middle of the pitch, which had to be cleared of firework residue prior to kick off, and another attack was mounted down the right hand side. Former Fleetwood Town midfielder Jamie Milligan then found the ball at his feet at the edge of the area and curled an unstoppable effort in off the left hand post.
It looked like it was going to be a long night for Collieries but a goal was pulled back less than two minutes later. Rick Smith finished off a smart move with a low drive into the bottom left hand corner past the Bamber Bridge goalkeeper Lloyd Rigby.
Another great finish followed on 32 minutes when Regan Linney restored Brig’s two goal advantage. A corner was swung in from the right hand side and well headed away by Rick Smith. Unfortunately it was quickly snapped up by the visitors and Linney was on hand to sweep the ball into the left hand corner past Reid with an extremely well timed half volley.
Half time arrived and presented Atherton with an opportunity to make a couple of changes. Jamie Forbes was replaced by Kristian Holt, while Ben Hardcastle replaced the goalscorer Rick Smith. The introduction of Hardcastle added a bit more of a spark in the final third as he linked up well with Ash Woods and Jordan Cover who was left frustrated with a relatively quiet night by his terms. Danny Lambert put in a man of the match performance in the centre of midfield and was central to a lot of the play.
Seven minutes into the second half, Jordan Cover broke through and dropped his shoulder to off balance the backtracking Bamber Bridge defender. He was able to cut in and unleash a shot that was palmed away by the grateful Lloyd Rigby. He had nearly been caught in possession by the striker moments earlier.
Despite a promising start to the half from Collieries and without being outplayed, the black and white stripes never really looked like getting anything from the match. Bridge looked to have sealed the victory on 62 minutes when they headed in from a free-kick but the linesman wafted his flag to disallow the effort.
Colls were still pushing forward and trying to close the deficit but they were finished off on 84 minutes when Sam Staunton-Turner knocked the ball into the back of the net from a corner kick. It was fired in from the left hand side with some pace, evaded the Colls defender on the front post and appeared to simply hit the knee of the striker who ultimately got his name on the scoresheet.
The final whistle sounded and Bamber Bridge rightfully booked their place in the next round. For Colls, it signalled the end of a hectic three days. From the 300 mile round trip to South Shields which went on into the early hours of the morning, the bonfire and firework display which attracted a large crowd from the local community, to the match on the Monday night. Everybody from top to bottom played a part in helping to run our club this weekend and each and every single one of you deserves a pat on the back.
Time for a few days rest before we host Marine in the FA Trophy Second Round. A strong contingency is expected from Crosby and it promises to be another good day for the club.
Atherton Collieries: Adam Reid, Jake Kenny, Danny Lambert, Josh Messer, Danny Lafferty (C), Jamie Forbes (Kristian Holt 45′), Johnny Gorman (James Sigsworth 62′), Rick Smith (Ben Hardcastle 45′), Jordan Cover, Ash Woods, Glenn Matthews – Substitutes: Ben Hardcastle, Kristian Holt, James Sigsworth, Rob Sadler, Chris Lynch
Bamber Bridge: Lloyd Rigby, Stuart Vasey, Chris Marlow (C), Danny Forbes, Macualey Wilson, Sam Staunton-Turner, James Boyd, Jamie Milligan (Michael Potts 75′), Matthew Dudley, Gerrard Garner (Alistair Waddecar 60′), Regan Linney – Substitutes: Alistair Waddecar, Brad Carsley, Michael Potts, Matthew Mahoney, Stuart Barton
Attendance – 142
Referee – Michael Barlow
Man of the Match – Danny Lambert
Match report by Joseph Gibbons