An air of tension circled around the Kensite before kick-off on Saturday, indeed three points absolutely vital for both the Collieries and their visitors, bottom of the table Goole AFC, as both sides looked to address their questionable league form.
The conditions were absolutely torrid in downtown Atherton, Storm Brian having an effect on how both sides played their stuff from the first whistle to the last, indeed wet and windy was the order of the day.
This being game number three in just seven days, Manager Michael Clegg opted to shake the starting eleven up a bit. Brad Cooke came in or the unavailable Jamie Forbes and new signing Ryan Salmon made his way into the side as he took the place of Jordan Cover.
Atherton never fail to underestimate an opposition, however, many in the Kensite didn’t expect Goole to push the black and whites as far as they did. Ultimately though, the Colls picked up the three points needed to bring a recent poor run of form to a halt.
Certainly though, they did this the difficult way round as against the run of play, the visitors opened the scoring on 22 minutes. Midfielder Kris Holt lost the ball in midfield allowing Goole to break. Marcus Edwards broke through the backline and poked the ball past Reid, one-on-one. A lucky break for the visitors, but they all count.
Seconds later and the Collieries came close to an instant response. A corner drilled into the Goole area was headed at goal well by Danny Lafferty. However, defender Steven Jeff had it covered as he cleared off the line.
Play was slowed thanks to the torrid conditions as the 22 men on the field battled against the fierce elements. With five minutes to go until the interval, the Colls again came close. Ben Hardcastle curled an effort at goal from the edge of the area, a shot out of nowhere that was saved well by Sam Leigh.
Atherton had their equaliser on 45 minutes though. Of late, Clegg’s men really have upped their set-piece game as they look increasingly more threatening from dead-ball situations. This goal itself came from a corner, Rick Smith the man to head into the back of the net from the near post.
The Collieries played much better throughout the second period of the game, credit to Goole who defended well and frustrated their hosts on a number of occasions. On 58 minutes they were forced to clear their lines and re-group, Salmon causing numerous headaches at once. A Darrhyl Mason shank from the right side of the field somehow landed at the feet of Gaz Peet on the left. The winger passed across to Salmon whose shot pinged around the Goole area before being thumped clear.
On 68 minutes though, Atherton finally took the lead, and they took it in style. Hardcastle with another fine effort 25 yards from goal; this time though the ball planted itself in the top left hand corner. A fantastic finish from the winger’s normally unused left foot.
Two minutes later and the black and whites had three. Substitute Jordan Cover had only been on the field barely two minutes when he chased onto a long ball forward that zipped across the deck. The striker used his electric pace as he grasped the ball before he fired a low, hard effort under Leigh.
Clegg’s men were made to sweat though, Goole pulled a goal back on 80 minutes. Again, against the run of play, the visitors took advantage of a lapse in concentration as Terry Barwick tapped in from a crossed ball situation.
Ultimately, Atherton did enough to ensure their first three points in just over a month. The win, and performance, that was needed against a tough Goole side. Clegg and his team were proud come the end of the ninety, picking up three points against an improving Goole outfit in what was the first ever meeting between the two.
Atherton Collieries: Adam Reid, Christopher Lynch, Richard Smith, Kristian Holt, Danny Lafferty, Bradley Cooke ©, Darrhyl Mason, Ben Hardcastle (Glenn Matthews 75’), Ryan Salmon (Jordan Cover 67’), Iain Howard (Ashley Woods 75’), Gareth Peet – Unused Substitutes: Daniel Lambert and Robert Sadler.
Goole: Sam Leigh, Macaulay Parkinson, Steven Jeff, Jacob Stannard ©, Ambo Adama, Luke Foster, Pietu Crouz, Terry Barwick, Scott Smith, Marcus Edwards, Tyler Williams – Substitutes: Geroge Gomersall, Charlie Shelley, Devonte Morton, Sayavoush Esmaeily, Karl Rose.
Man of the Match: Gareth Peet
Match Report: Zach Pierce
Photo: David Featherstone