Games against Congleton Town have never been easy. The last time the Bears made the journey north to the Kensite they went away disappointed following a last minute James Kirby winner for the Collieries.
The aftermath of Storm Doris had wiped out practically every Hallmark Security League fixture in the area, not this one though! Thanks to the tremendous work of the Kensite’s ground-staff this game was given the thumbs up after a number of pitch inspections. It’s safe to say that the 220 in attendance were not spoilt in the slightest.
Following great 1-0 wins against Bootle and 1874 Northwich respectively, Atherton had to ensure they kept their momentum going in order to cement their place in the top two, in fact, win this one and they would go three points clear with a game in hand. Win it they did, seeing off the visitors from Cheshire by five goals to their nil.
Taking your chances is a necessity in any game of football, teams have been punished on countless occasions for not doing so. Well, the Collieries cannot be slated for failing to do this on Saturday, scoring with their first chance of the game on eight minutes. In a packed and quite chaotic Town box, Ben Hardcastle took advantage. The winger picked up the loose ball and carried along the area before he fired low and hard into the back of the packed net. A great start from Clegg’s men.
The management team slotted Liam Wood into Saturday’s side, this decision certainly paid off as the left-sided midfielder had a superb game throughout. On 15 minutes the winger carried the ball down the left side managing to evade the Bears’ defence. As he grew closer to the corner flag, Wood squared a drilled ball into the danger area. However, Town keeper Ross Heywood did very well to collect.
Atherton were playing well, they controlled the midfield and reduced Congleton to only one ambitious effort seconds before the thirty minute mark. This hard work was rewarded on 33 minutes as the Colls doubled their lead, Vinny Bailey slotted past Heywood to send the Crazy Gang wild.
Much talked about new signing from Curzon Ashton, Johnny Gorman, made his debut on Saturday, coming straight into the Colls attacking two. It could have been a dream start for the former Northern Ireland international but he could only watch as his tap from a squared ball was headed off the line from a Congleton defender.
However, minutes later, Atherton had let their defensive guard slip as they gifted the ball to the visitors in their own area. A quick turn and release offered something for goalkeeper Adam Reid to worry about, but the custodian was well prepared and was equal to whatever the Bears threw at him.
With only seconds left on the clock, Gorman came close again. This time the forward fired just over the bar from a free kick on the edge of the area.
Second half and it was the Collieries turn to kick up the infamous Kensite slope. This favoured the black and whites, for four minutes after the re-start Clegg’s men scored two in quick succession.
The first goal was that of a Jordan Cover special. The electric heeled frontman picked the ball up in midfield before he ran the length of the Congleton half and slotted under Heywood. A great solo effort from the man in fine form of late.
As for the second, well that was not too dissimilar to the one 60 seconds earlier. Again, Cover collected in midfield and advanced the length of the half, this time however the forward squared the ball to Bailey who skilfully directed to the back of the net. From out of nowhere, the Collieries had another two and were comfortable.
On 74 minutes the visitors attempted to pull a consolation goal back, however Reid was again equal to the challenge they presented.
Seconds later, and down the other end of the field, Atherton received a penalty following Hardcastle being pulled back in the area. He dusted himself down to fire the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the Congleton goal. The Colls had their fifth.
Before the referee blew for the conclusion of the game, Hardcastle had one more effort on goal. Substitute Henoc Mukendi played the ball across to the winger from the right but a fine Heywood save from a close range effort denied him the match ball.
A consistent and fine Collieries win sees Clegg’s lads move up to the top of the Hallmark Security League. The boys in black and white never made the win look in doubt and churned out another fine performance to ensure this superb run continues.
On Saturday the black n white are home again as Winsford United visit the Kensite. Get behind the lads as they continue their quest for the title. Ko 3pm.
Atherton Collieries – Adam Reid, James Brooks (Grimshaw 75′), Gareth Peet (C), Josh Messer (Sherlock 62′), Jamie Forbes, Danny Lafferty, Ben Hardcastle, Vinny Bailey, Jordan Cover (Mukendi 56′), Johnny Gorman, Liam Wood – Substitutes: Mark Truffas, Matt Grimshaw, Dave Sherlock, Henoc Mukendi, Neil Chappell
Attendance – 220
Match report by Emil Anderson
Photo by David Featherstone