Chadderton used to be Colls bogey team; now it is safe to say it is Padiham. Three times the two sides have met this season, and not once have the black and white stripes been able to get the better of Steve Wilkes’ combative and organised side. In August, Padiham won 4-2 at Alder House in the league, and the score line was the same four months later when Collieries were knocked out of the Lancashire Trophy at the Quarter Final stage.
Collieries came into this match in second place, five points behind league leaders Runcorn Linnets with a game in hand. With the two due to play each other on Monday, three points at The Arbories would have made the match against Linnets a possible title decider, but by gaining just a point it would be fair to say that Collieries now face an uphill battle if they are to gain promotion. Padiham were in 17th place and found themselves six points ahead of AFC Blackpool who occupied the final relegation position.
There was a blow in the warm up for the visitors as striker Mark Battersby injured himself. He was replaced by Jordan Cover, leaving a vacant space on the substitutes bench.
The first half belonged to Padiham who could have quite easily gone into the half time interval with a four or five goal advantage. Fortunately for Colls, it was just 1-0 and they were able to fight back brilliantly in the second half.
Mark Truffas had the first effort on goal on seven minutes following a fairly even opening. The winger travelled at pace down the left and cut inside the Padiham right back before firing just over from a tight angle.
Padiham then took the lead on 11 minutes through man of the match, Kieron Pickup. The goal wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Olympic ping pong final, but it found the net and that was all that mattered. A cross came in from the right hand side and the original shot was saved by Danny Taberner. The next shot was blocked. The next hit the right hand post. The next was blocked. The next hit Taberner’s shin and found the bottom right hand corner.
On 15 minutes, Josh Messer came close to equalising. The midfielder picked the ball up on the edge of the area, and fired a thunderous effort towards goal where Michael Donlon was on hand to tip it over the crossbar.
Kieron Pickup and Sean Cookson caused Collieries problems all afternoon, and it was the latter who should have doubled Padiham’s lead on 25 minutes. Bombing down the left hand side he found himself one-on-one with Danny Taberner and somehow fired his effort wide; a let off for Atherton.
Cookson came close again on 31 minutes when he saw his latest effort cleared off the line. Pickup crossed the ball towards the back post from the right hand side and picked out his fellow strike partner. The resulting header looped over Taberner, but Mark Ayres was on hand to scramble the ball off the line. There were belated claims that the ball had crossed the line but these were correctly dismissed by the referee.
Aaron Taylor was then denied by some fantastic goalkeeping by Taberner, before the Colls defence was carved open again five minutes before the interval. Cookson received the ball in the area, controlled with his chest and volleyed narrowly wide of the bottom right hand corner. The home side should have been out of sight.
As it was, half time allowed Atherton time to regroup and make some changes. A triple substitution was the result with Brad Cooke, Nathan Battersby and Kristian Holt replacing Dave Sherlock, Jake Kenny and James Kirby respectively.
The changes seemed to do the job as the away side went on to have the majority of chances in the second half. Jordan Cover had an effort cleared off the line on 56 minutes and from then on it became a matter of when Collieries would score, not if.
Kristian Holt and Brad Cooke both had shots that flew just wide of the target as the pressure continued to rein upon a very organised and compact Padiham defence. Former Colls players Seydou Bamba and Matt Cross played well, organising their side at every given opportunity.
Gareth Peet was a standout performer for Collieries, and as the match progressed he became more of a threat down the left hand side. He was eventually named Colls man of the match by Padiham; a nice birthday present. A plethora of crosses flew in from the left hand side, but the equaliser came from a long throw in.
The throw was launched in and flicked on to Jordan Cover who out jumped Matt Cross to head the ball towards goal. The looping header seemed to take forever to drop into the goal as Michael Donlon stood rooted to the spot. There were scenes of relief and jubilation amongst the large away following who were now urging their side to push forward for a winner. There was just five minutes remaining.
It was now all Colls, and they had a couple of half chances to snatch three points but again the home side defended in numbers. After committing numbers forward, Atherton were left open at the back and they should have been punished deep into added on time when a Padiham forward found himself through on goal. Fortunately, another fantastic save from Taberner ensured the game finished all square.
A fair result.
Padiham: Michael Donlon, Andrew Fitzgerald, Seydou Bamba, Joshua Emmott, Tomas Fowler, Matthew Cross, David Hankin, Garry Hunter, Aaron Taylor, Kieron Pickup, Sean Cookson – Substitutes: Alexander Murray, Samuel Farrow, Jake Townsend, Michael West, Christopher Turner
Atherton Collieries: Danny Taberner, Jake Kenny (Nathan Battersby), Gareth Peet, Josh Messer, Mark Ayres, Callum Jones, Ben Hardcastle, Dave Sherlock (Brad Cooke), Jordan Cover, James Kirby (Kristian Holt), Mark Truffas – Substitutions: Brad Cooke, Nathan Battersby, Kristian Holt, Matt Grimshaw
Match report by Joseph Gibbons
Photo by Ian Monk