Preview: Colne

Football in the town of Colne has a complex past but the history books show our first meetings with the current club being in 2004. A 1-1 draw was played out at Alder Street in September, with Colls being on the wrong side of a 3-2 score line in the reverse away fixture, Anthony Johnson scoring a penalty for us (whatever happened to him?). The 2008/09 season brought two memorable games, both for the wrong reasons. Facing Colne after starting the season with 9 straight defeats we staged a fight back only to lose (again) 5-4, James Cotton, Ben Wharton, Troy Hayder and Craig Wilson with our goals. With Colls sat firmly in the bottom two, 30 people watched the clubs play out a 1-1 draw towards the end of the season, with Shaun Connor claiming our goal. A point was of no real use in our fight against the inevitable relegation to North West Counties Division One. In 2014/15, we gained a bit of a reputation as a cup team, beating teams from divisions above including Radcliffe Borough and Rambsbottom United. When we traveled to Colne in the quarter final of the Men United Cup, it was no surprise that that run continued. Iain Howard making his first debut for Colls in a staring role as Mark Ayres and an own goal sent the crowd into almost hysteria. Danny Taberner in the goals saving a penalty for good measure. We renewed league acquaintances with Colne back in the Premier Division in 2016, both games coming late on in the season. And Colne were on the same trajectory as ourselves, up! Steve Cunningham had come in after the late Nigel Coates stepped down as manager. The club now having a stand named in his honour. Both teams were involved in an epic three way battle with Runcorn Linnets for the single promotion spot. A classic was served up at Alder Street, two Mark Ayres headers had us 2-0 up before Jordan Cover took full advantage of Chris Thompson's wild swing at the ball outside of his box to slot in from a narrow angle to finish the game off at 3-0 and keep outsiders Colls in touch with the leading pair. The two teams met again only a few weeks later in what was one of the most astonishing games in recent memory. Ben Hardcastle had given us an early lead, whilst Jimmy Ball, now of Stevenage in League Two absolutely ran the game. An audacious Rabona attempt stunning all in attendance. With Jay Hart and Dean Stott both being red carded, the nine men of Colne unbelievably firstly equalised through Spencer Jordan before going in hunt of a winner. With Manager Micheal Clegg apoplectic in the dugout, the end to end game finished 1-1, a result that suited Colne far more than the Colls. Colne went on to win that promotion and if we are honest, it was fully deserved. Colls finishing a very creditable third. However the clubs still had the matter of MEN United Cup to contest. Colls still hurting from losing the final in 2015 against Glossop North End at Curzon Ashton's stadium were out to make amends at Fleetwood Town's Highbury Stadium. The name Mark Battersby will resonate in the history of the club forever, however this was quite possibly his finest performance for the club. Wave after wave of Colls attacks were simply too much for the Champions to handle, a Battersby hat-trick adding to goals from the deadly duo of Cover and Hardcastle. An unfortunate Ayres own goal being Colne's only joy. A fantastic night on the Fylde Coast as we sang and played our musical instruments very, very badly to our heart's content as the season ended on a high. The win for Colls meant the two clubs would meet the following pre-season as league and cup winners for the Reusch Champion's Cup. This time it was Colne's turn to lift the silverware through Dom Craig and Matty Beadle goals, however, Cleggy's Midnight Runners made an awful (lot of) noise behind the goal as both clubs wished each other well. Colne went on to have a great season, finishing 5th in the league before losing to Farsley Celtic in the play-offs, whilst Colls followed in their footsteps by winning the North-West Counties Premier Division. Last season saw the teams clash for the first time in the Evo-Stik league with our opening day game being away to Colne on a glorious August afternoon, Ben Hardcastle scoring our first ever goal at that level before Jordan Cover sealed a 2-0 win. However when we hosted the Red Army at the start of a hectic festive period, Colls had found the league slightly harder going than that particular day. Chris Lynch scored the opening goal, unfortunately this was the Colne player and not his Colls namesake. Matty Morgan adding a second to repeat the 0-2 score line of the opening day.    

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