A bumper crowd attended the Kensite Stadium for the season’s pipe-opener for both sides. New Wanderers gaffer Phil Parkinson was present at the game along with a sprinkling of the first team set up but it was a youthful Superwhites outfit on show. Colls started with ten of last season’s squad and looked resplendent in their black n white halved centenary shirt.
Colls took the lead on 7 minutes. Veteran midfielder Brad Cooke made a swashbuckling run into the box and was upended by Wanderers custodian Jake Turner for a stonewall penalty. Turner guessed the right way but he was unable to stop Mark Ayres’ 12 yard effort.
Ten minutes later Cooke doubled the advantage with a howitzer of a strike from 20 yards out.
On 25 minutes the lead was halved when the diminutive and talented Alex Samizadeh scored from close range after he had shown fine footwork in the box.
With just seconds of the half remaining Wanderers equalised through Constantin Sandu but Colls still had time to retake the lead through speedy striker Jordan Cover. A first half goalfest.
Both teams predictably ringed the changes for the second half and the game never reached the giddy goalscoring heights of the opening 45 minute but there was no lack of effort, intensity and talent on display. Lewis Coleman was just off target with an overhead kick for Colls now playing in their usual #almostfamous black n white stripes before Turner expertly pushed a goalbound Gareth Peet daisycutter onto the farpost.
Peet then went down in the box but referee Handley gave short shrift to penalty appeals. Colls keeper Danny Taberner – making a welcome return from a leg injury which ended his season in March – had to be on his mettle when he was left one on one with an attacker but he bravely smothered the ball.
The visitors equalised just when it looked like Colls were set for a famous victory. An opportunist 50 yard effort by Tom Grivosti was tipped onto the bar by the back pedalling Taberner only for Ronaldo Pearson to gobble up the rebound.
A fine game of football played in a tremendous spirit. After the disappointment at the Euro’s earlier in the week it was a gentle no pressure reintroduction to the national sport. The crowd of 1,780 must be a Colls best for a generation or three. A shout out to all who attended with special appreciation of course to Bolton Wanderers FC.
Atherton Collieries: First Half: Adam Reid, Jake Kenny, Mike Lea, Vinny Bailey, Mark Ayres (C), Matty Grimshaw, Ben Hardcastle, Brad Cooke, Jordan Cover, Krissy Holt & Justin Pickering.
Second Half: Danny Taberner (C), Lukas Malkowski, Chris Pauley, Josh Messer, Danny Lafferty, Callum Jones, Lewis Coleman, Krissy Holt (Vinny Bailey 68′), Gareth Peet, Dave Sherlock & Mark Truffas
Bolton Wanderers: Jake Turner, Callum Spooner, Cole Lonsdale, Alex Honeyball, Harry Brockbank, Alex Perry, Constantin Sandu, Jack Earing, Jarvis Nutt, Alex Samizadeh, Jonathan Kindermans, Jack Everest, James Aspinall, Matthew Marsh, Jordan Grant, Tom Grivosti, Ronaldo Pearson, Ryan White, Dennis Politic, Matthew Fearnley