Buoyed by Monday night’s win against Colwyn Bay, the Collieries were brought instantly back down to earth on Saturday with a 2-0 defeat away at Evo-Stik regulars Mossley.
Two enforced changes for Clegg coming into this game, Gaz Peet demoted to the bench for fitness reasons, Chris Lynch taking his place, and another straight swap as Darhyll Mason came in for George West who was unavailable for this outing.
On what was a stodgy pitch, the Colls struggled to make any form of leeway, rarely did the black and whites threaten Mossley stopper Oliver Martin.
For the majority of the game, the home side were in control. They opened the scoring almost instantly with only three minutes on the clock. A fine diagonal ball forward allowed Adam Latham to go wide in space, with very little pressure from the Atherton defence the midfielder cut inside and poked his effort into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. A disastrous start for the Collieries, out of character poor defending the cause.
Again, ten minutes later, the Lilywhites managed to exploit and bamboozle the Colls’ back line. Mason Duffy picked a loose ball up in midfield before he pelted down the park, sliced the Atherton defence in half and fired wide. It was all too easy for the winger and his side; the black and whites had yet to wake up.
However, onwards from this, Atherton had by far their best spell of the game. They played the ball about with confidence on what was clearly a very difficult surface, again, they just lacked that clear finishing touch. On 25 minutes great link up play allowed Iain Howard to slot Ash Woods through. The forward chased the free ball into the area but Martin latched onto it before he could.
A Ben Hardcaslte half chance on 38 minutes again saw Martin make a routine save. The winger simply poked the ball at him on the far right post yards from goal. Again, minutes later, no clinical finish as Mason headed over free in the area from a Howard corner. Due respect to the forward, he had made a great run to find himself in such a fine position in the first place.
With two minutes additional time signalled, a 1-0 half time score was respectable for the Collieries. However, as the clock ticked onto the second minute, Mossley doubled their advantage. A counterattack from the hosts saw the Colls switch off, Jack Tuohy simply tapped in at the near post from a simple ball into the area.
Second half, Atherton continued to threaten the Mossley goal, unfortunately though no breakthrough could be made, and if it wasn’t for Reid, the score line would have been a lot worse. Just four minutes into the half the stopper was called into action, this time saving well from a Latham effort on the edge of the area.
In what was a scrappy game, the Colls could only produce scrappy efforts on goal. On 50 minutes, a superb Hardcastle corner swung to Woods on the far post. The forward was free, and half volleyed just wide. Ten minutes later substitute Johnny Gorman very nearly embarrassed Martin. The winger received the ball off fellow substitute Gaz Peet on the edge of the area. As he opened his body up to face goal Gorman tapped a tame effort towards goal. With only a late view of the ball, Martin struggled to claw it to safety. Half chances for Atherton here.
On 72 minutes Reid made a superb double save to ensure Clegg’s side remained in the game. The first saw the keeper parry the ball away to the edge of the area after a Mason Duffy drive was fired straight at him. Unfortunately the ball landed straight to the feet of Elliot Harrison just on the left of the area, his effort was remarkably tapped over by the stopper. Reid’s fingertips kept Colls’ dreams going.
Minutes later and the black and white’s best opportunity of the game fell to Jordan Cover. The forward, who had been quiet for the majority of the game, was through on goal, one-on-one with Martin. Normally, Cover would slip opportunities such as this away, however, on this occasion the ball was fired well over.
One more fine save for Reid eight minutes from time, a point-blank save from a Mason Duffy header yards from goal added to a portfolio of superb performances for the stopper.
Throughout the game, Colls attacks came and went, just that clinical finish lacking for Clegg’s men, ultimately this was the difference as Mossley took the fine three points.
A rare midweek off comes now for the Colls, Glossop North End Atherton’s next game on Saturday 30th September down at the Kensite.
Mossley: Oliver Martin, Caldon Henson, Ismail Suleiman, Mo Ali, Tom Dean ©, Keenan Quansah, Elliot Harrison, Adam Latham, Liam Ellis, Jack Tuohy, Mason Duffy – Substitutes: Michael Taylor, Sam Howell, Danny McLaughlin, Marko Basic, Jamie Matthews.
Atherton Collieries: Adam Reid, Brad Cooke ©, Chris Lynch, Kris Holt (Danny Lambert 83’), Danny Lafferty, Jamie Forbes (Gaz Peet 45’), Ben Hardcastle, Iain Howard, Jordan Cover, Ash Woods (Johnny Gorman 57’), Darhyll Mason – Unused Substitutes: Matt Grimshaw, Rob Sadler.
Match Report: Zach Pierce
Photograph: David Featherstone