A nightmare opening ninety seconds was the catalyst for The Collieries losing their first game on the road this season. An hopeful punt forward wasn't properly dealt with resulting in a cheap corner being conceded. Bedlam ensued from the set-piece and a failure to clear lines on a couple of occasions allowed Colne debutant Dominic Kerrigan to side foot home a possible dream first ever touch in a red shirt. In fact if Kerrigan hadn't found the onion bag the referee would have been within his rights to give a penalty for an ill-timed challenge. Messrs Clegg and Co's carefully crafted game plan was in tatters.
A shell shocked Colls outfit looking resplendent again in their all yellow change strip took time to settle and had their first opportunity on the fifteen minute mark after Ben Hardcastle was chopped down on the edge the box. Vinny Bailey's free kick ricocheted up off the wall and Tom Bentham's follow up volley was hooked wide. On thirty minutes Dale Latham was forced into making a vital save to stop Colne scoring but the lead was soon doubled. Home team custodian Hakan Burton gathered a ball down the channel and instantly launched a precise pass to the left flank and seconds later Alex Curran had looped a header over Latham. A fine team goal but where were the Colls defenders?
The double whammy at least raised Colls out of their inertia and from a Bailey corner Bentham outmuscled a couple of markers to head in from close range for his first competitive goal for the club. Although the hosts hadn't really created much also the Colls faithful were happy to go in for their half time beverages just a goal down
Colls totally dominated second half possession as Steve Cunningham's side 'parked the bus'. They ceded possession but Colls lacked the guile to breakdown a resolute defence marshalled superbly by no 5 Jonny Hodgkinson. Playmaker Bailey was eventually taking the ball off his keeper to try and make things tick. The odd half chance was created but the ball always seemed to end up in the canny hands of Burton who was in no rush to part with it. This aligned with the ham acting antics of the home team bench in delaying getting replacement balls onto the pitch after the twenty or thirty times a ball had cleared the stadium did nothing to help the blood pressure of the increasingly frustrated Colls collective. The half-hearted attempts by the referee to hurry things up were ignored totally.
In conclusion there are no complaints about the result whatsoever. The hosts needed the victory after a rocky patch and would have been surprised how flat their opponents were. A draw never mind a victory would have taken Colls to the summit of the Evo-Stik Division 1 West league team. This opportunity seemed to be more of a burden rather than an incentive. Standout performers were Danny Lambert who wore his heart on his sleeve throughout and Gareth Peet who was always a threat on the flank. Atherton Collieries: Dale Latham, Glenn Matthews, Gareth Peet, Josh Messer, Danny Lafferty (C), Matty Grimshaw (Connor Gaul 46'), Ben Hardcastle, Danny Lambert, Vinny Bailey, Tom Bentham (Jordan Cover 67'), Ben Conway (Callum Spooner 57'). Substitutes (not used): Dave Sherlock, Adam Farrell
Goal(s): Tom Bentham (40')
MOM - Danny Lambert Attendance: 231
Photograph: Ian Monk