High-flying Scarborough Athletic summered a hammer blow to their promotion ambitions as a first half Jordan Cover double saw Colls seal a second win over the Seadogs in the three space of three days in front of over 500 fans at the Kensite Stadium.
Having defeated Scarborough in the League Cup on Thursday evening with a sterling performance in what certain quarters had criticised as a “terrible game of football”, Colls repeated the trick two days later against the same opposition, with Micheal Clegg’s side justifying their spot at the top of the form table with another vintage 90 minutes.
In scoring a hat trick in the 3-1 win at home to Mossley last month, Cover showed his blistering pace down the slope sitting on the shoulder of the last defender before racing through and scoring one-on-one with the goalkeeper. If Scarborough had been scouring recent match footage in preparation for their visit to the Kensite, they must have disregarded such a threat as Cover repeated the trick after only five minutes of this encounter, haring away down the slope before coolly slotting past visiting goalkeeper Thomas Taylor.
If that was a lesson to the visitors, it was quickly forgotten as the lead was doubled on 18 minutes as Ben Hardcastle threaded a lovely ball through for Cover to again exploit the space behind Scarborough’s back four and once again beat Taylor in a carbon copy of the first goal. Cover was giving the visiting defence such a torrid time that centre back Josh Snowden was unceremoniously hauled off after just twenty one minutes as the shell-shocked Seadogs desperately tried to get their promotion hopes back on track.
Scarborough midfielder Nathan Valentine could count himself somewhat fortunate to escape only with a yellow card after a particularly heavy challenge on Daniel Lambert before Colls were a Dave Merris goal line clearance away from a third goal, only a minute prior to Bailey Gooda being called upon to do the same as Colls continued to dominate, before Cover was inches away from converting a driven Hardcastle cross that flew across the face of goal.
With Colls two goals to the good at the break, the second half began with a similar pattern, Cover being denied by a terrific Taylor save just two minutes in to the second period.
The visitors finally began to pose more of an attacking threat as the second half wore on as they started to dominate possession, without managing to necessarily provide much of a challenge to Greg Hartley in the Colls goal. Hartley did find himself beaten though on 81 minutes when Michael Coulson halved the deficit from inside the penalty area.
Cover had another chance to get his hat trick late on, denied again by Taylor after taking advance of confusion in the visiting defence, before Scarborough piled forward in search of an equaliser, Lewis Sugden’s shot being deflected over the bar for a goal kick when it could have quite easily had rebounded on target. In a last ditch attempt to equalise, goalkeeper Taylor found himself in the Colls box as Scarborough had a stoppage time corner, but Colls held firm and were able to celebrate a victory that has huge ramifications at the top of the table.
Colls’ heavy schedule continues this week with a trip north on Tuesday evening (27th March, 7.45pm kick off) to face Kendal Town in an Evo-Stik League Division One North encounter before welcoming Ramsbottom United to the Kensite Stadium the following Thursday (29th March, 7.45pm) in the Integro League Cup Quarter Final.
Atherton Collieries: Greg Hartley, Jake Kenny, Gareth Peet, Daniel Lambert, Matt Grimshaw, Danny Lafferty, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke ©, Jordan Cover, Dave Sherlock, Liam O’Neill (Glenn Matthews 82’). Substitutes (not used); Adam Farrell, Chris Lynch, Gary Burnett
Goals: Jordan Cover (5′, 18′)
Scarborough Athletic: Thomas Taylor, Jack Johnson, David Morris ©, Bailey Gooda, Josh Snowden (Lewis Sugden 21’), Sam Hewitt (Jorome Slew 85’), Nathan Valentine (James Beadle 61’), Luke Dean, James Walshaw, Michael Coulson, Max Wright. Substitutes (not used); Jamie Price, Tom Morgan
Goals: Michael Coulson (81′)
Match Report: Matt Lawton
Photo: David Featherstone