As Linnets dropped points at Nelson last Tuesday night, Thursday evening’s Colne v Colls encounter became all the more important – Colne win and they take a giant step forward in their bid to be crowned NWCFL Premier Division champions, Colls win and the two horse race is invaded by a third as the Colls gallop to catch up with a possible double promotion in sight.

There was a fantastic atmosphere around the XLCR Stadium and the anxiety on both sides of the camp was high – this was a big game, a very big game. Despite the initial anxiety, the Colls bossed the first half as they controlled throughout.

The first effort of the game came on two minutes. Left winger Justin Pickering picked the ball up inside of his own half and advanced deep into the Colne area. On the edge of the box, Pickering cut inside and fired a shot at goal. However Nosakhare Aghayere picked up the ball with ease. A good start.

Six minutes later and the Collieries had another good chance on goal. James Ball scuffed over a close range effort after the tricky Pickering played him in. This was a fantastic chance for the black and whites. Pickering was instrumental as he set up wave after wave of Colls attacks in this first period of the game.

On 10 minutes the lively winger played the ball across goal, however, the ball was too wide for Mark Battersby to latch onto on the far post.

It was on 14 minutes that the Red Army was silenced – Atherton scored.

Ben Hardcastle carried the ball after he won it in midfield to the edge of the area. As he cut inside, the Crazy Gang encouraged him to shoot. Hardcastle did just that as he curled the ball around the keeper and nestled it into the far corner. A fantastic run and goal that sent the Crazy Gang wild.

Straight after Reid had to be instrumental and he did just that as he controlled his box to thwart two Colne crosses. The Colne pressure continued as Dave Sherlcok was forced to clear off the line from a Daniel Boyle shot in the area. However, the Collieries were by no means hanging on – they bossed this period of the game and this was evident on 34 minutes as Ayres fired over from a Colls’ corner, the ball was drilled across the box as the initial corner was headed out by the Colne defence.

With three minutes to go until half time, Mark Battersby was denied a goal as he tapped into the Keepers’ palms after he latched onto a long ball.

Half Time – Colne 0-1 Atherton Collieries

The first half was superb from a Colls point of view the lads played well and looked strong in possession. However, during the second half Colne began to take control, despite being reduced to nine men.

On 53 minutes, Ball did very nearly double the Collieries’ advantage with a fantastic piece of skill. Inside the area, he tapped just over with a ‘Rabona’ style effort. The keeper, like everyone else in the ground was left stunned.

However, the main action and talking point of the half came with two straight red cards for Cunny’s men. The first came on 67 minutes as Jay Hart found himself with an early shower after he was involved in an off the ball incident with Jake Kenny, Hart looked as if he pushed Kenny away as he grabbed his neck.

The second came five minutes later with Dean Stott sent off after he fouled Jordan Cover in a last man challenge. Cover advanced at pace in his hope to latch onto a loose ball. Despite the fact that they were two men light, Colne played some of their better football of the game.

On 78 minutes, against the odds, they equalised. Spencer Jordan fired low and hard into the Colls’ goal after he twisted and turned past Atherton’s back line from his central run into the box. Reid was left helpless.

Seconds before, Cover had fired well over after Ayres had pulled the ball back to him. Both sides had half chances as the game neared conclusion, Colne looked the better of the two and will take the game as one point gained, whereas the Colls look at it as two points dropped.

Full Time – Colne 1-1 Atherton Collieries

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