Atherton Collieries returned to league action on a high following Thursday nights emphatic 4-1 victory at Hednesford Town in the semi-final of the Integro League Cup. The clubs focus is very much on the upcoming final against higher ranked opposition in Coalville Town, so this match against Ossett Town who will be merging with Ossett Albion in a couple of weeks time very much had an end of season feel to it.
Colls had last visited the Ingfield Stadium back in September when they lost 1-0 in The FA Cup in what was a tight encounter. This match was no different, with both sides cancelling each other out on numerous occasions.
Sunshine was beating down on this West Yorkshire town as the two teams emerged from the sanctuary of the tunnel. A sizeable Colls contingency were assembled along the near side awaiting the game to burst into life.
It was a slow start. Ossett had a couple of half chances before they came close to opening the scoring on 10 minutes. A free kick was drifted in and only half cleared, allowing a Town striker to hit a bouncing effort into the playing surface and towards goal. Fortunately centre half Matt Grimshaw was on hand to clear the ball off the line and avert any danger.
It was a somewhat changed attacking lineup for Michael Clegg’s side, with Adam Farrell spearheading the front line, supported by Lewis Doyle, Liam O’Neill, Marcus Cusani and Johnny Hurst. The four players collectively only had 13 appearances to their names before the game but held the composure and fluidity of a midfield who had played together all campaign.
While Colls looked quite comfortable it was the home side again who were causing goalkeeper Greg Hartley problems on 31 minutes. Ossett enjoyed some intricate build up play which released a striker to be through one-on-one with Hartley, who pulled off a quick fire double save to keep the scoreline goalless.
It proved to be a crucial passage of play as just four minutes later the visitors took the lead from the penalty spot. Liam O’Neill had carried the ball down the left hand side and was eventually felled towards the edge of the penalty area by the goalkeeper. Up stepped Farrell who calmly slotted the ball past Leigh Overton in the Ossett goal, before celebrating by hoofing the ball out of the ground, over a row of neighbouring houses and possibly on to the head of a local woman who was sunbathing in her garden. The striker received a yellow card.
There was a low point in the afternoon when right back Jake Kenny, who was captaining the side, had to be withdrawn with a knee injury after being the victim of late challenge. He was replaced by Danny Lafferty who had been rested ahead of Monday night’s match against Hyde United.
Ossett were desperately unlucky not to have equalised with the last action of the half when their striker performed a Ronaldo-esque overhead kick which flew past Hartley into the bottom corner of the net. The linesman chalked the goal off having raised his flag for offside.
The second half was barely a minute long when the home side equalised. It was a lightning quick response, so much so that the vast majority of the away fans were still in the bar finishing their pints of Yorkshire Blonde. The general consensus was that the effort was offside but we will never know.
Marcus Cusani tried his best to restore Collieries one goal advantage on 55 minutes but his speculative effort flew over the bar and into the impressive stand which sits behind the goal at the near end of the ground.
A response did come on 60 minutes when Farrell grabbed his second of the game. He was played through from midfield, took a touch to take the ball past his marker and then poked his effort into the bottom right hand corner past the oncoming goalkeeper.
A minute later, Ben Hardcastle who had scored at Hednesford on Thursday night, was brought on in place of Jonny Hurst who had put in a solid display on the right hand side. This change would prove to be a further turning point of the game as Hardcastle brought an injection of pace down the right hand side.
There was to be more goalmouth action on 67 minutes when Ossett equalised for the second time with a well taken finish. Collieries were perhaps guilty of sitting off a bit too much in midfield and the ball was played out to the left hand side where Jason Yates was primed for a shot at goal. He cut inside and then calmly dispatched the ball into the right hand corner past Hartley who was visibly frustrated.
With ten minutes remaining, Adam Farrell was replaced by Jack Kenny. The striker had missed the last 15 matches through injury having been hospitalised after colliding with a perimeter fence at Colwyn Bay back in February. It was undoubtedly a boost to see him back on the pitch in time for the final run in.
Three minutes remained when Jack Kenny found himself through on goal and he was pulled back by an Ossett defender. The referee had no option but to point to the spot while Kenny, now caped in mud, picked himself up off the floor. It was Hardcastle who took responsibility for the penalty, and just like Farrell in the first half, he calmly put the ball past Overton to secure all three points.
It was a game in which neither side ever looked to be fully in control of but as with the previous two meetings between the sides, it was well contested. Ossett Town and Ossett Albion are merging in time for next season to become Ossett United and we wish everybody connected to the clubs all the best with their ambitious plans.
Colls are next in action on Monday night when they host promotion hopefuls Hyde United with a 19:45 kick off. They then take on Tadcaster Albion at The Kensite Stadium on Saturday with a 15:00 kick off.
Ossett Town: Leigh Overton, Jake Ellam, Craig Nelthorpe, Isaac Assenso, Ashley Jackson, Corey Gregory, Anthony Mackie, Jason Yates, Alex Peterson ©, Nicky Boshell, Sam Wright – Substitutes: Michael Fargher, Kane Bingley, Fabian Bailey, Alex Low, Steve Nicholson
Goals: Alex Peterson (46′), Jason Yates (67′)
Atherton Collieries: Greg Hartley, Jake Kenny ©, Danny Lambert, Josh Messer, Matt Grimshaw, Dave Sherlock, Jonny Hurst, Lewis Doyle, Adam Farrell, Liam O’Neill, Marcus Cusani – Substitutes: Ben Hardcastle, Danny Lafferty, Jack Kenny, Jordan Cover
Goals: Adam Farrell (penalty 36′, 60′), Ben Hardcastle (penalty 87′)
Man of the Match: Adam Farrell
Match report by Joseph Gibbons
Photo by Ian Monk