Atherton Collieries clinched the Integro Cup at the first time of asking with a 2-1 victory against Evo-Stik League Premier Division side Coalville Town.
Hosted at Alfreton Town’s Impact Arena, Colls took an early lead as Josh Messer, making his 150th appearance for the black and whites, nodded home his first goal in 5 years at the club when he connected with Gareth Peet’s 8th minute corner. Coalville then had a spell in the ascendency but failed to threaten Collieries keeper Greg Hartley. Backed by a strong travelling contingent, Cover and Peet narrowly missed opportunities to increase the advantage and the sides headed in at half-time with the solitary goal separating them.
The second half began with a good spell for Coalville but once more Hartley wasn’t tested and the Colls took full advantage as 65 minutes in, Jordan Cover racing in behind the defence to meet Peet’s through ball. He saw his shot rebound off the post before gleefully tapping home the rebound and sending the travelling fans into jubilation. 2 minutes later, Colls were handed a chance to kill the tie off as Ben Hardcastle was brought down in the box and the referee awarded a penalty. The resulting spot kick however was put wide by Hardcastle and it looked as if the Lancastrian side would be left ruing it as Hartley was tested for the first time from a Coalville free kick and the rebound was brushed home. Colls breathed a sigh of relief as the linesman’s flag was up but the same couldn’t be said 6 minutes from time as Nat Watson’s dink ensured a nervy finish. Coalville saw Jermaine Hollis sent off in the last minute of injury time for a stamp on Hartley as Colls managed to see out their lead and clinch the Integro Cup.
It’s fair to say that Micheal Clegg’s reign as Colls manager has been trophy-laden already with a pair of league titles and a North West Counties League Cup, but lifting this competition ahead of 67 other entrants – 24 of them from a higher division – must surely represent a watermark for the club’s progress and is testament to the hard work done on and off the field by the club and it’s hard-working volunteers in recent years.
Match Report: Ben Olawumi