The Collieries made their first sojourn to this part of the Stoke conurbation for the first time in sixteen years and left with a rather hard earned three Evo-Stik Division 1 points. Seven days earlier Kidsgrove had triumphed 2-1 at The Skuna Stadium to progress to the 2nd qualifying Round of the Emirates Cup. In midweek they won a feisty game at Widnes 1-0 while Michael Clegg's boys had scored four second half goals to claimed a rare as hen's teeth victory over Clitheroe.
Colls reinstated Matty Grimshaw and Dave Sherlock to the line-up and Dale Latham returned for a second debut between the sticks.
Within the opening five minutes a couple of sorties had flashed passed the Grove goal as the visitors started brightly. Clegg was forced to shuffle his pack very early though as young full back Lloyd Bannister went down under no contact whatsoever and had to leave the paddock on a stretcher. Dave Sherlock moved to the right full back berth and Danny Lamber took up duties in the engine room. Colls dictated the flow of the game and Jordan Cover headed over an accurate Gareth Peet centre. Peet then appeared to have been challenged unfairly in the box but referee Wainman decreed no penalty. Late in the half Latham, who had been a virtual spectator, had to be on his mettle not once but twice in a five second flurry of action to brilliantly deny Jake Twyford from close range.
The second half continued in the same vein with Colls having the majority of the football but the miserly Grove defence were on their game and with the excellent Anthony Malbon leading their forward line a productive counter attack was always in the offing. On the hour mark Cover twisted and turned before his goal bound effort was pushed to safety by the keeper at his near post. Five minutes later Colls got the all important breakthrough. Ben Hardcastle dinked the ball into the six yard box and Connor Gaul stylishly caresed it into the net. It proved to be his last touch as following the hearty celebrations he was replaced by Luke Giverin. Job done Connor!
The hosts now had to play on the front foot to fashion an equaliser and maintain their eight game undefeated start to the campaign. Malbon headed a corner wide and then was left with his head in his hands as his shot on the turn in a good position also missed the target. Skipper Danny Lafferty marshalled his defence smartly in the dying embers of the game as Colls preserved their narrow lead to earn a richly deserved three points.
A brilliant performance against well drilled opposition. A modicum of revenge for last week's FA Cup reversal but good luck to Kidsgrove in their tie at Mossley next Saturday. Unfortunately the result was tempered by the injury to Lloyd Bannister. Best wishes to Lloyd and updates to the extent will be posted as soon as we get the information.
On Monday the black n white stripes commence their defence of the Integro Challenge Cup when Droylsden visit The Skuna Stadium. 7.45pm Ko Atherton Collieries: Dale Latham, Lloyd Bannister (Danny Lambert 10'), Gareth Peet, Dave Sherlock, Danny Lafferty, Matt Grimshaw, Ben Hardcastle, Vinny Bailey, Jordan Cover (Glenn Matthews 84'), Ben Conway & Connor Gaul (Luke Giverin 67')
Goal(s): Connor Gaul (66')
Man Of The Match: Danny Lafferty Attendance 130
Report: Emil Anderson
Photograph: David Featherstone