Colls Aim To Keep Winning Run Going

Despite having their last two games postponed due to the weather, Atherton Collieries manager Michael Clegg is looking for his side to keep their momentum and the good run of form going during December. Colls’ 3-0 win over Chadderton in the FA Vase last Monday was their fifteenth game unbeaten, and their seventh straight win, and while that is a good run by any standards, Michael believes they could have done even better. “If you look at the games we lost early doors, we were missing key players in those games, massive players for us like Mark Battersby, Brad Cooke and Jordan Cover”, he said.  “I know you can always have excuses, but apart from 1874 Northwich, who dominated us at our ground, we were unlucky to lose the other games, and the draws we had were frustrating too. “Against Barnoldswick they had a penalty in the 94th minute, against Bootle at home we had 22 shots and they had two, and they beat us 1-0. “That is football and I think realistically we could easily be a few points better off, but we are happy with where we are”. One of the features of Colls’ success so far is that that it has been achieved with the same squad of players who clinched the First Division title last season, and Michael says he is pleased with the way they have adapted to the higher level. “We are developing, and we just keep pushing boundaries with the lads we have got. “We have got a very young side who are always evolving, the likes of Ben Hardcastle and Kris Holt are 21, as is the keeper Danny Taberner, Josh Messer and Jake Kenny are 20, Jacob Jones is 18, and I could go on, even Batts (Mark Battersby) is only 27. “I don't think there are many squads in the division younger than ours, and we have got some really special lads, but it's about keeping their feet on the ground and keeping hold of them”. With Colls still being involved in three cup competitions, and ties in the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy and FA Vase coming up in the next ten days, as well as a league game against 1874 Northwich, it’s a busy period for the squad. But after rounding off last season with four cup finals, Michael is once again relishing the chance to have a crack at having some success in cups as well as collecting league points. “You hear managers saying they're not interested in this cup or that cup, but playing football's not like a tap, you can't just turn it on and off”, he said.  “We go out to win every game that we can, no matter what competition that is in, and when you have 18 or 19 hungry lads like we've got, you need cup games to keep everyone happy. “Without the cup games we couldn't keep all the lads, so we want to win every game, and when you have got players like we have who are going to go at it for 90 minutes, teams are going to struggle to keep us out”. “We have got a special group here.  The team spirit got tested early on with a few iffy results, but since we have been picking up good results, you won't find a happier dressing room than we've got. “The lads are now looking forward to have their Christmas night out in Newcastle or Durham, or wherever is near to where we are going (Newton Aycliffe  in the FA Vase), and they are all buzzing about that. “It's all about the momentum, but it will get tested.  We've got difficult games against 1874 Northwich, Padiham and Newton Aycliffe coming up, but if we can scrape some wins from those games and during the rest of December, then who knows where we'll be at the turn of the year”.   Originally written and published by Ian Templeman for www.nwcfl.com

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