Padiham’s encounter with Atherton Collieries was always going to be a close and exciting affair. Going into the game both sides boasted fine runs of form, and manager Michael Clegg knew his lads would have had to be on top form to get anything out of the 90 minutes.
The game plan set out by the management team however worked splendidly as the Colls ran out convincing 3-1 winners, registering one of the finest results so far this season.
Throughout the opening period of the game Atherton were in control, and after Ben Hardcastle curled an effort wide, they took advantage of this to take an early lead. Mark Battersby drilled a fine ball across to advanced right-back Jake Kenny. At first, it looked as if the ball would not make it through, luckily a defensive error allowed Kenny to collect. The right-back travelled deep into the area and fired a low, hard shot past Maxwell Povey in the Padiham goal. This was just a third Colls goal for Kenny.
Sixteen minutes in and the Colls came close to doubling their advantage. Mark Truffas pelted down the left wing before cutting inside. He curled a swooping effort which caressed off the top right hand area of the goal. The ball seemed to spiral through the air, a great effort.
A minute later and Atherton’s attacking prowess was causing yet more problems for the Padiham defence. The ball was played over to Hardcastle for the tricky winger to cut inside and make his way into the Blue’s area. A low and hard shot followed, forcing Povey into a fine save.
The remainder of the first half was a pretty equal affair, half chances came and went for both sides. Just before the break, Gaz Peet drilled a free kick straight into the palms of the Padiham stopper.
The second half allowed the Collieries to cement their lead, however at first they had to ride out early pressure from the hosts, though Reid was alert to everything Padiham had to offer.
Mark Battersby was at the centre of most Colls attacks, this was true on 59 minutes. Hardcastle sent Battersby through with a great diagonal ball only for the usually prolific striker to fire the ball straight at the steady Povey. Battersby then seemed to be brought down in the box but referee Price seemed to be the only person on the paddock not to think it was a penalty.
Looking to secure the advantage, Clegg brought on Daryl Mason. With his first touch of the game, Mason volleyed slightly over from the edge of the area, one-on-one with the advancing keeper. Super-sub would have been an understatement.
As Atherton saw effort after effort tickle wide of the mark, Padiham stepped their game up, determined to find an equaliser. With twenty five minutes left on the clock Padiham’s Keiron Pickup found himself in a superb position just outside the area. Pickup unleashed three consecutive efforts on goal, each time a Collieries’ player jumping in front of it to prevent a Padiham equaliser. Heroic defending.
Not to worry though, on 70 minutes the Colls got their second. From an Dave a Sherlock in swinging corner, inside of a packed box, Jamie Forbes tapped home at the far post. A good finish from Forbes, under pressure from his marker, queue delirious celebrations from the Atherton faithful.
Things were not all plain sailing however, Padiham made Atherton sweat on 88 minutes. Chaos unfolded within the Colls’ area. Dominic Craig took advantage of this and poked an effort towards goal. Reid was unable to prevent the ball tumbling over the line. A scrappy goal, but one that counted nonetheless.
Under pressure, the Collieries needed to avoid any self-enforced pressure. A long punt up field from the Colls’ back four, not only removed any pressure from themselves, but also resulted in a penalty. With only seconds of the game left, the ball was headed onto Mason who subsequently hit terra firma. A rather soft decision in all honesty. Jordan Cover stepped up to take the responsibility, initially he saw his rather tame effort saved, Povey guessing correctly but only able to parry straight back at Cover who composed himself and tapped home to secure the three points.
Friday Night Football managed to serve up another fine 90 minutes of entertainment, a close game predicted beforehand is exactly what had unfolded. After the game, Clegg and the lads were very pleased with their evening, understandably so, Padiham are a dangerous side who had won their last eleven league outings.
On Saturday Colls visit Shildon FC from County Durham in the 4th Round of the Buildbase FA Vase. It’s the first time the club has reached the last thirty two stage of the National competition and the task is a tough one but both teams are inform and it should be a cracker. Colls will be backed by at least hundred fans many of whom will be dressed in the theme day colour green which matches the away jerseys.