The Pitching In Northern Premier League continues to provide the thrills and spills of a footballing season with just four games played, Cooke’s lads currently sit in 11th position with a 50% win record. Saturday’s away fixture to Morpeth Town provides an opportunity for Colls to build on what has been a positive start to this 21/22 campaign. It will be only the second game on the newly installed 4G pitch. Colls were able to welcome captain Danny Lafferty back to the side in Tuesday’s game away at Warrington Town. A 2-0 defeat for the Black and Whites, the score line failing to tell the whole story however; Cooke’s lads provided a performance the travelling Atherton faithful were certainly proud of. After the game, First Team Coach Joe Duckett reflected on what made the difference for the promotion-chasing Yellows, “It was a very, very similar game to when we played them on a Tuesday night there last year. Box to box, we can compete with them - the second half showed we can compete with any team in this league. However, we have got to be a bit better in the boxes and a little bit smarter. On the flip side, they (Warrington Town) are very good in the boxes. In this league, it is a second off and you concede. That’s the level of football we are at.”
Morpeth Town, on the other hand, will be looking to address a disappointing start to the season. Defeats to Stafford Rangers, FC United, Stalybridge Celtic and Bamber Bridge see the Northumbrian’s lie bottom of the table at this early stage of the season. Following Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat to the hands of Bamber Bridge, Assistant Manager Craig Lynch spoke to Highwaymen TV and talked about a turning point in this season being on the horizon, “In the last three games we have gone into half-time 1-0 down, tonight we played well first half and have gone in 1-0 up thinking this could be the turning point. Second half, they (Bamber Bridge) upped the intensity, we didn’t. The goals we have conceded are poor goals.”
Morpeth Town are not familiar opponents but the sides have actually met on four previous occasions. Instalment one was in a FA Cup tie at Alder Street in September 2000. Goals from from Luke Hardman and Mark Jones sent the Highwaymen home bauble-less. Nearly two decades later the clubs entered the Northern Premier Division as the Champions of the two respective tributary leagues. A Tuesday night in October 2019 saw the first meeting for a generation – it was officially the longest league trip in history and a 3-0 defeat marked the auspicious occasion. The opening goal was such a majestic strike from distance that even the healthy Colls faithful were allowed to applaud without reproach. Revenge was sweet one month later however, the Collieries seeing off Town in the FA Trophy thanks to goals from Josh Thompson and Tom Bentham. This particular win propelled Colls into uncharted FA Trophy territory, a giant-killing victory at home against Boston United saw the lads take Barrow AFC all the way to a replay in the First Round Proper. The most recent meeting between the two sides came just before the 19/20 annulment, a 5-1 defeat for Atherton at the Skuna Stadium with Jordan Cover providing the only consolation. Moving quickly on.
Looking ahead to this game, Duckett wants the boys in Black and White to bounce back with a win, “Morpeth will be good, the same as everyone in this league. We have got to bounce into it – we took a bit of a hit last Tuesday and bounced back Saturday and were really, really good. We are looking for the same thing again. It comes thick and fast in this league; it is absolutely relentless. Unfortunately, you have to write Tuesday’s defeat off and learn from it - we can’t dwell on the defeat.”
There will be a coach leaving the Skuna Stadium at 9AM on Saturday morning for just £15 return. Seats must be reserved in advance, please contact @ACFC1916 on Twitter if you would like to do so. Supporters can purchase match tickets ahead of Saturday by visiting https://www.morpethtownfc.com/shop/match-tickets/.
Saturday 28th August 2021
Adult – £10
Concessions – £6
Under 17s/Student – £2
Article – Zach Pierce and Emil Anderson
Photo - David Featherstone