Colls fought out a pulsating fixture against Runcorn Linnets for a second consecutive Saturday and ultimately progressed to the next round of the Buildbase FA Trophy. Michael Clegg and his coaching team had been tasked with throwing a team together as ten players were unavailable through injuries, holidays, engagements and as some wag commented bar mitzvahs. The lads pulled together magnificently and deservedly took the spoils against the in form Evo-Stik Division 1 West league leaders.
Jordan Cover had the first sight of goal on the fifteeen minute mark but he seemed like a rabbit caught up in headlights and he dragged his snapshot wide. Ten minutes later the black n white stripes did take the lead when Adam Farrell sensationally smashed a 25 yarder into the bottom left hand corner of the net. Linnets then had skipper, talisman and ex Colls Mon Paul Shanley dismissed for two yellow cards. The decisive one was for simulation when he took a tumble in the Colls penalty box. The partisan Linnets faithful were then baying for Referee Johnson to make it 10 v 10 when Luke Giverin was adjudged to have followed through when winning a tackle in the middle of the park. A yellow card was the decision much to the charging of the yellow n green clad massive. For some reason Colls went into their shell and were made to pay for it. Another ex Colls hero Krissy Holt bambozzled Dave Sherlock on the edge of the box. Was it skill or the rub of the green but there was no doubting the unerring finish which gave Colls custodian Dale Latham no chance.
Colls returned the paddock after the break following by all accounts a Clegg tongue lashing and almost immediately retook the lead. Connor Gaul and Cover had been a tad flat before the break but they teamed up to set the 'Skuna' alight. A pinpoint Gaul delivery was headed back across goal by Cover and into the onion bag. Linnets keeper Dylan Forth made a fine save from a close range Ben Conway header. Gaul and Cover were again on the same wave length with the former playing in the latter to finish with panache. To their credit the Linnets kept on coming and coming and with a quarter of a hour left on the clock the excellent Connor McCarthy whipped in a delightfully curling shot from distance. When Colls eventually put the game to bed there was a collective sigh of relief from the home brethren. Ben Hardcastle was dragged down by Aaron Morris on the edge of the box who was the luckiest man on the pitch to escape censure given the referee was in the midst of a carding purple patch. Young gun James Sigsworth smashed an unstoppable deadball effort past Forth to raise the stadium roof.
To reiterate, a hard earned victory over quality opposition to set up a tie in the next round at Northern League Champions Marske United which will be played on Saturday 13th October. The triumph showed what a rich squad Clegg and Co have put together. Special mention has to go to the experimental back three of Callum Spooner, Josh Messer and Glenn Matthews whose collective excellence laid the platform for the attackers to do their stuff. Michael Clegg said after the match this was the best Colls performance since he came to the club. Who are we to argue? Atherton Collieries: Dale Latham, Callum Spooner, Glen Matthews, Josh Messer, Adam Farrell (Tom Bentham 80'), Dave Sherlock, Ben Hardcastle (C), Luke Giverin (James Sigsworth 66'), Jordan Cover, Ben Conway & Connor Gaul. Substitutes (not used): Greg Hartley
Man of the Match: Glenn Matthews Attendance: 226
Report: Emil Anderson
Photo: David Featherstone