It was the night of the club’s inaugural ‘Pay What You Want’ fixture which was arranged in the aftermath of the original February Friday evening match up which was abandoned at half time because of torrential rain. Micheal Clegg tinkered with his starting line up again but this was a necessity being the fifth game in nine days.
The game started at a funeral pace and the ‘newbies’ must have been wondering what all the fuss was about. Jordan Cover had Colls’ first real chance on 10 minutes but having skipped round the oncoming keeper Sean Lonton-Davis he ran out pitch and the ball ended up in the side netting. In the 22nd minute Nelson’s lively no 11 Nathan Webb went down in the box a little theatrically and referee Madine waved away half-hearted shouts for a penalty. More of young Mr Webb later in the piece. The game was gradually getting more vim and pep and the visitors took the lead just after the half hour mark. A hopeful punt into the box was dealt with by Jake Kenny. Unfortunately the clearance landed straight onto the foot of left back Waqas Azam who volleyed it back with change giving Kyle Haslam no chance. A truly splendid effort. This galvanised Colls slightly, Mark Ayres headed against the bar with Cover just unable to snaffle up the rebound and then Ben Hardcastle flashed a sweet strike across the face of goal.
Half Time Colls 0 Nelson 1
A presumed interval rollicking saw Colls restart with intent. Dave Sherlock saw an attempt saved at the near post and Justin Pickering smashed a free kick wide of the target. Colls seemed to turning the screw but got sucker punched. A rushed free kick saw a breakdown in communication and within seconds it was like the Alamo in Kyle Haslam’s 18 yard box. Adam Nuttall scored with ease but there was more than him lined up to apply the finishing touch. The home crowd fell silent but got a response they required when Mark Ayres reduced the deficit with a trademark 6 yard header from Hardcastle’s pinpoint corner. The game was galvanised and the teams were taking it in turns to attack. Step forward Nathan Webb. The diminutive mop topped Accrington Stanley loanee was nigh on unplayable on the evening and on he went on a tantalising run in the box before laying off to Stephen Cassidy who prodded home from yards out. A wonderfully crafted goal! Colls were in a hole but responded through sheer guts. With a quarter of a hour left Brad Cooke was scythed down in the box and Ayres sent the keeper the wrong way with the ensuing penalty kick and two minutes later Cover restored parity with a close range finish following a goalmouth melee. Neither side rested on their laurels. Colls substitute Lewis Coleman headed wide with the Lonton-Davis in no man’s land and in injury time the visitors somehow missed a gilt edged chance to snatch all the points.
What a fantastic advertisement for NWCFL football this game was bearing in mind the rather insipid start to proceedings. Whether the 176 punters paid anything to get on the ground or not they must surely have been impressed with the standard of football. The ‘Pay What You Want’ experiment was deemed a success and will have perennial place in the Colls calendar.
The result leaves Colls needing snookers for back to back titles but 3rd place and a podium place is virtually assured. With four league games left along with couple of cup finals to boot this seemingly endless campaign is far from over and the lads could yet see their names up in lights.
Match report by Emil Anderson