FA Trophy glory was once again on the cards for Atherton Collieries as they travelled to divisional rivals Kendal Town and they returned with a Second Round Qualifying spot and more prize money to add to that earned in the previous round away to Stocksbridge Park Steels in what was another afternoon where goal-happy Colls stuck four past their opponents.
Having scored six goals in their previous two games, Colls have rediscovered the scoring touch that was the hallmark of their recent historic progression to the Evo-Stik League Division One North, with boss Micheal Clegg keeping faith with the starting eleven that defeated Goole – and the atrocious weather – by the odd goal in five at the Kensite Stadium last week.
Recent wet weather in Cumbria saw Kendal’s home fixture with Hyde United postponed so it came as little surprise that it was a heavy pitch then welcomed Colls to the South Lakes, and the visitors were in danger of getting bogged down as right back Mike Aspin’s strike saw the visitors fall behind with just six minutes on the clock, sweeping in the rebound after Connon Gaul’s initial attempt had been blocked on the edge of the box.
Gaul threatened twice further as first he saw a shot deflected away for a corner followed by an inswinging cross that dropped just wide of Adam Reid’s right hand post, but Colls were to find themselves level on the scoreboard after just fifteen minutes of action when Darrhyl Mason delivered a beauty of a cross from the right hand side that saw Ryan Salmon leap like his namesake and thump a header past Kendal goalkeeper Will Kitchen.
On twenty six minutes Salmon made a keen break down the right hand touchline only to be crudely hacked down by Josh Wardle who, it’s probably fair to say, was lucky to avoid a yellow card. However, further punishment was to indeed arrive only seconds later as Iain Howard sent the resultant free kick in to the area for Chris Lynch – playing at centre back in the absence of Jamie Forbes – to head Colls in front having been virtually afforded the freedom of the Lake District by the home defence.
Howard curled a free kick just over the bar before the hosts came agonisingly close to an equaliser with four minutes of the half remaining when left back Ben Thomas cut inside on to his right foot and cracked a tremendous strike that smashed against the underside of Reid’s crossbar but thankfully bounced back in to play rather than over the line, though the danger wasn’t over as the rebound fell to Charlie Bowan’s who’s overhead kick was well saved by Reid.
If that was to be considered a warning shot then it wasn’t heeded, however, and the sides ended up going in to the break on level terms after all as Paul Dawson curled an unstoppable strike in to the top corner just as the first half entered stoppage time.
Clegg shuffled his pack after the interval with the half-time introduction of Josh Messer for Richard Smith before introducing Ashley Woods for Brad Cooke on fifty six minutes as his side looked to regain the lead, but it was the seventy fourth minute arrival of Jordan Cover that was to eventually make all of the difference. As the game entered it’s final nine minutes, Kendal could clear a corner only as far as Josh Messer who returned the ball in to the penalty area with interest where it broke for Cover on the left hand side of the six yard box to show some neat footwork and flick the ball past Kitchen to put Colls 3-2 ahead.
Only two minutes later and victory was sealed as Cover again showed some fancy feet to fashion a chance for himself. This time it was blocked but fell to Ashley Woods sixteen yards out who shimmied to the right to create enough of a view of goal and fired past Kitchen for a fourth Collieries goal and with it yet more historic FA Trophy progress.
With the prospect of an FA Trophy replay avoided, Colls can look forward to the Second Round Qualifying draw on Monday lunchtime before returning to Evo-Stik League Division One North action with a long Saturday trip to the North East to take on high-flying South Shields in what is likely to be a four-figure crowd (Saturday 4th November, 3pm kick off).
Kendal Town; Will Kitchen, Mike Aspin, Ben Thomas, Paul Dawson, Paul Alexander, Josh Wardle (Jacob Davis 84′), Stuart McDonald ©, Anthony Lynch (Danny McGahon 64′), Rick Seear (Matt Clarke 71′), Charlie Bowan, Connor Gaul. Substitutes (not used); Danny Penswick, Max Rothwell
Atherton Collieries; Adam Reid, Brad Cooke © (Ashley Woods 56′), Gareth Peet, Daniel Lafferty, Chris Lynch, Kristian Holt, Darrhyl Mason, Richard Smith (Josh Messer 46′), Ryan Salmon (Jordan Cover 74′), Iain Howard, Ben Hardcastle. Substitutes (not used); Glenn Matthews, Daniel Lambert
Match Report; Matt Lawton
Photograph; David Featherstone