After a recent slump in form, the Collieries were given the perfect opportunity to bounce back to winning ways in the form of a home game against Congleton Town. Clegg and the lads were determined to turn the recent rut around in what was the last home game of a fine season.
The game began as an equal affair with very little separating the two sides, apart from a stray Jordan Cover header on eleven minutes, the game had a real end of season feel to it.
However, the action picked up on 19 minutes with a fine Colls move. Brad Cooke’s ball across the box was intercepted by the Congleton defence. As the ball flew in the air briefly, James Kirby headed it into Pickering’s run. Pickering connected well the ball as he volleyed wide of the far post.
Three minutes had passed when Pickering found himself at the centre of the action yet again. James Kirby had the power, and directed the Collieries attack as he lobbed the ball over the Bears’ back line for Pickering to latch onto. Pickering collected advanced deep into the Congleton area but found himself dispossessed as he ran out of steam.
On the counter attack, minutes later Congleton almost took the lead. Luke Sephton ran through, clear on goal, from the right flank. However, Adam Reid did very well to get down to the trike midfielder’s low and hard shot.
It was Kirby who took the lead, however, for the black and whites on 28 minutes. The ball fell to the robust striker to simply tap in from close range. Kirby with a smart finish against his home town club.
Congleton had other ideas though, they grabbed their equaliser 6 minutes before the interval. It was Congleton’s right back Brian Matthews who riffled into the top left hand corner of the goal from Colls’ seemingly troubled right flank, from a superb cross-come-shot.
Half Time – Atherton Collieries 1-1 Congelton Town
Minutes into the restart Reid made a fantastic save from another Sephton shot, the strong Goalkeeper has been instrumental for Atherton over the past few weeks.
52 minutes into the game saw the Colls waste a fantastic opportunity to re-take the lead. Jordan Cover carried the ball from midfield however failed to capitalise on the clear opportunity presented to him as he tapped wide of the mark.
It was Dominc Kursack who prevented Atherton from taking the lead on 59 minutes. The corner was swung in from the left side and Matt Grimshaw headed towards goal. Kirby, in the mix of bodies central to the Congleton danger zone, got a head to the ball in an attempt to steer it away from the goalkeeper. However Kursack did very well to adjust and get a hand to the ball.
The game was played out end to end as both teams sensed the next goal would be the winner. Mark Ayres thought he had won it for the black n white stripes but his header was cruelly chalked off for offside.
Then Town broke quickly and a quality cross was fizzed across the 6 yard box but unfortunately for them there was nobody in position to apply the finishing touch.
In injury time Colls won a free kick 20 yards out. Gareth Peet’s effort end was parried by Kursack but goal machine Ayres was on hand to tap in the rebound. That was his 12th goal of the campaign which rather unexpectedly equalled his caution total. Well done Mark! Another stoppage time winner against Congleton who played a full part in an entertaining game of football .
Full Time – Atherton Collieries 2-1 Congleton Town
A morale boosting victory after a four game winless streak which started with the Colne match up that ended any real hope of the title and totally sapped confidence given the nature of the game. The win guaranteed third place which is the highest ever NWCFL Premier Division finish. The previous best was seventh under Phil Brown in 2006/07.
Match Report – Zach Pierce